Pilot error led to Mangalore tragedy?

The horrific Air India Express crash that claimed 158 people could have been averted had the Russian pilot of the ill-fated Boeing 737-800 heeded his Indian co-pilot's advice.

The records of the conversation between the two pilots and ATC point to the fact that co-pilot H S Ahluwalia had urged Captain Zlato Glusica to go around instead of landing. (See: Mangalore disaster: pilot of crashed plane was no greenhorn)

Interestingly, Ahluwalia had warned against the landing well before the aircraft had descended lower than the 'decision height', the critical level at or before which a final decision on to land or go around is taken, according to sources. The sources add the Mangalore-based Ahluwalia had landed at the city's table top airport as many as 66 times and had voiced his concern at an altitude of 800 feet, they add.

Sources say Ahluwalia had warned at least twice against going ahead with the landing and had urged his commander to go around. He had likely realised that the aircraft was either too fast or too high on approach, indicating unstable approach and the possibility that the aircraft would not be a able to stop safely on the runway. Under such conditions going around is usually undertaken as a standard operating procedure which enables the aircraft to make a safe landing on its second attempt. The aircraft was arriving from Dubai.

However, the warning proved to be in vain as the aircraft did not go around but crashed and fell off the cliff from the runway.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has framed guidelines for cockpit resource management (CRM) under which it is mandatory for commanders to listen to their comparatively less experienced co-pilots as they may also have some valid inputs to offer.