The country’s apex aviation regulator has included Mangalore airport in the list of 11 most unsafe airports in the country.
The airport is infamous for the crash of Air India’s Dubai-Mangalore flight in May 2010. All 159 people on the aircraft, including the crew, died in the accident. However, the decision of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has surprised many because the investigation had blamed the pilot for the accident, while giving a clean chit to the airport.
The court inquiry held by Neelkanth Gokhale ruled that human error led to the crash and the airport was not responsible.
Expat pilot Glusica Zlakto had overshot the runway by 300 metres, missing the landing threshold and had later tried to lift off, which caused the crash. The airport was also equipped with a sand arrester at the end of the runway but the plane missed that patch too.
The report also said that the co-pilot, Ahluwalia, had asked Zlakto to correct the descent approach even before he was planning to land the flight, but Zlakto ignored those suggestions.
Regional executive director, southern range, D Devaraj, said DGCA has been unfair in labelling Mangalore airport unsafe.
He said with the development of modern aviation electronics, aircraft guiding systems and airport lighting and radars — which have become standard equipment even in smallest of airports — there is no way that air accidents can take place in or near airports.
Systems such as integrated landing system and precision airport path indicator make landing on any airport safe. “But if the pilot gives all these precision indicators a go-by and adopts a
cavalier approach to aircraft operation, mishaps are bound to happen,” he said.
“Competence of pilots and precision instruments on board is a unique combination that makes all airports safe to land, irrespective of their geographical features,” was his observation during the two-day conference on Table-top Airports and Safety Aspects, held at National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, near Mangalore, recently.
‘It is safe’
Mangalore airport has been certified with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and has licence from DGCA. The recent developments at the airport, especially the extension of runway, have made the table-top character of the airport irrelevant.
“We are meeting every recommendation and prescription mentioned in the Annexure 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation charter and ISO certifications,” Devaraj said.