Air India Crash: The Reason Why

Back in May 2010, I blogged about a tragic Air India flight from Dubai that crashed in Mangalore and killed 158 people. The plane ran out of runway on the airport, which is built on a narrow plateau. It went off the edge and crashed in the valley below.

(In the map, if you click alternately on “Satellite” and “Terrain” it’s clear that the airport occupies the whole of a hilltop. Once the plane missed the runway, the only place to go was down into the valley.)

The Court of Inquiry has found the reason: The pilot was sleepy and disoriented. He responded incorrectly to the situation. They think that if he’d jammed on his emergency brakes instead of trying to take off again, the plane would have been saved.


In the US, authorities are beginning to recognize the dangers of sleep deprivation. Drowsy driving has been compared with drunk driving, and has caused fatal accidents. A 1999 study showed how driving ability deteriorated in 12 subjects after sleep deprivation. The same year, Stanford University researchers released a note saying, “ In a test of reaction times, people who were tired because of disrupted sleep performed about as poorly as subjects who were legally drunk.” A NASA article cites the National Transportation Safety Board as saying, about fatigue and pilot error, that sleepy crews “made more errors overall, and significantly more procedural and tactical decision errors.”

A study in 2007 had 6 subjects use a driving simulator; without sleep, their eye-movements didn’t even track with their steering.

Despite this, in the US there are still jobs where people are required to keep hours that almost ensure they’ll be sleep-deprived. Often those are the very jobs where other people’s lives are at risk: truckers; doctors; emergency responders.

In India, I wonder, Is the issue even on the radar or in the public consciousness?

About webmaster

I'm an international Business Consultant; author of "India Business Checklists" published by John Wiley
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