New Delhi: The Mangalore air-crash has proved, if proof were needed that Indian air space remains a dangerous place for air travellers.
The first reports have indicated that the accident may have been caused by pilot error. This is because pilot behaviour has been under investigation in a number of cases in
recent months which could have led to accidents but fortunately didn`t.
The Directorate of Civil Aviation revealed last month that it was investigating 15 near misses - incidents in which planes flew dangerously close to each other - and several
cases in which pilots reported drunk for duty.
The number of near misses in 2009 was disclosed in response to an RTI reply to Abhishek Shukla, but the DGCA did not reveal the dates on which the incidents took place, the airlines involved or action, if any, taken against the airlines and the pilots involved.
A near miss may be caused by many factors, one being lack of coordination between the Air Traffic Controller and the pilot, one or both of whom could be working under
conditions if extreme stress.
Another factor is the burgeoning number of flights flying in and out of the major airports, caused by the induction of numerous low cost airlines.
For example, on an average day, Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi handles over 700 flights which carry more than 62,000 passengers. In 2002-03 the same airport
was handling only about 77 flights a day.
Has the ten-fold increase in passenger traffic been accompanied by a concomitant upgradation of faciltites related to air safety, experts ask.
Similarly, Mumbai Airport handles 600 flights per day now compared to only 96 flights per day in 2002-03.
A major accident was averted at the Mumbai airport recently when a Kingfisher Airways flight, carrying 30 passengers and crew, was asked to abort take-off minutes before a GoAir plane was cleared to land.