Mangalore Crash Inquiry - Interesting Facts


A court of inquiry investigating the crash of Air India Express flight IX-812 in Mangalore in May will probe the medical history of the plane’s commander to ascertain if he was on any medication that could have led him to sleep for nearly two hours during the journey from Dubai.

The plane was piloted by Serbian commander Zlatko Glusica, 55, with co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia, 40.

The court found after an analysis of the flight’s cockpit voice recorder that the commander slept for about 1 hour and 40 minutes during the 3 hour and 45 minute journey.

“He was an experienced pilot. He had landed there several times. He had taken adequate 18 hours rest before the flight,” said a person familiar with the court of inquiry’s plans, asking not to be identified. “There were several warnings from the enhanced ground proximity system... It will now be seen what was his health background, was he on any medication, did he... take any pills for sleep?”

The court will meet the Serbian commander’s family in addition to analysing his medical records. Its report is expected to be submitted by the end of September or early October, the person said.

The voice recorder played back deep snoring sounds and co-pilot Ahluwalia’s constant interaction with the air traffic control, he said, adding that the level of snoring, heard till about 25 minutes before landing, suggests a deep sleep cycle. The plane overshot the runway as it landed at the Mangalore airport and plunged over a cliff, killing 158 people, including Glusica and Ahluwalia.

“In such a deep sleep, it takes time to return to normalcy and reflexes are slow,” this person said. “Thrice, the co-pilot asked to go-around but he did not listen. The way he positioned his aircraft before landing is totally unprofessional.”

Glusica had 10,215 hours of flying experience, including 2,844 hours on the Boeing 737–800 type of aircraft that crashed and 7,630 hours as pilot-in-command. Ahluwalia had 3,619 hours of flying experience, including 3,319 hours on Boeing 737–800.

“The very fact that the length of sleep didn’t alarm the co-pilot indicates that it is happening regularly with more captains. In the (court of inquiry’s) hearing, several pilots have deposed that they do take controlled naps and it is a regular practice. It needs to be looked into,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based safety expert and a member of the government-appointed Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council.

He said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should make it mandatory for expatriate pilots to follow medical rules as per Indian regulations to avoid such instances. Foreign pilots are allowed to follow home licence medical rules.

Air India Express did not have doctors to conduct pre-flight medical check-ups on its pilots, Mint reported on 10 August. The airline appointed doctors for the Mangalore airport on 24 May, a few days after the crash.