India plane crash report says pilot was asleep at the wheel

Pilot of Air India flight that killed 158 people reportedly slept more than half the flight; was disoriented when he awoke.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 17, 2010 19:42
1 minute read.
Civilians crowd around Air India flight remains.

India plane crash_311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

NEW DELHI — The pilot of an Air India flight that crashed in May, killing 158 passengers, slept through more than half the flight and woke up disoriented when it was time to land the aircraft, an investigative panel concluded, according to media reports Wednesday.

The Court of Inquiry appointed by the Indian government to probe the May 22 crash concluded that flight commander Zlatko Glusica was disoriented and his reactions were slow while bringing the aircraft in for a landing at Mangalore airport, Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

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A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that the newspaper report was accurate, but said the report would be made public only after it was presented to the Indian Parliament.

The Air India Express flight from Dubai to Mangalore in southern India overshot a hilltop runway, crashed and plunged over a cliff, killing 158 people instantly. Eight people survived the crash.

The panel examined information contained in the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft, which were found at the crash site.

The panel said that Glusica reacted late and did not follow many standard operating procedures during the landing.

Glusica was suffering from "sleep inertia" after his nap and was "disoriented" when the plane began its descent at Mangalore airport.

The data recorders caught the sound of heavy nasal snoring and breathing, Hindustan Times said.

The co-pilot, H.S. Ahluwalia, is heard repeatedly warning Glusica to abort the landing and try the procedure again. The last words captured by the recorders as the plane crashed were those of one of the pilots saying, "Oh my God."

Glusica, a native of Serbia, had more than 10,200 hours of flying experience, while Ahluwalia had clocked in 3,650 hours.


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