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Air India won’t blame pilots for Mangalore crash

Mangalore: Air India on Sunday asserted that the pilot and co-pilot of its Boeing 737 aircraft which crashed and killed 158 people, including the two pilots and four crew members, on Saturday in Mangalore were experienced and well-rested.

“No, both were well-rested,” Jadhav said in response to a question on whether pilot fatigue caused the crash, one of the worst aviation disasters in the country in a decade.

Flight commander Z. Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, and co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia had three-and-a-half days of rest before flying the Boeing 737, Flight IX 812, from Dubai to Mangalore, Jadhav told a press conference in Mangalore.

Jadhav said Glusica had 19 landings in Mangalore and had over 9,000 hours of flying experience while Ahluwalia had over 3,700 hours of flying experience. Ahluwalia had 66 landings to his credit at Mangalore airport.

“I cannot ask for a better pilot than Ahluwalia,” the Air India head said, adding he was due for commandership in one month.

Jadhav urged people and the media not to speculate on the reasons for the crash, saying it would affect the interests of the victims.

“It was an international flight. It has international ramifications. Speculations will hurt the interests of the passengers,” Jadhav said.

Jadhav said an amount of Rs 10 lakh will be given to the family of the deceased who are above 12 years of age and Rs five lakh to the family of those younger. For the injured, the Air India will pay Rs 2 lakh as interim compensation.

Air India was in talks with insurance companies, including Reliance Insurance and General Insurance Company, on payment of compensation.

“We are announcing an interim compensation. We will give them money immediately,” he said.

“This is over and above the compensation announced by the Prime Minister and the state government,” Jadhav said.

He said 128 bodies have been identified and handed over to relatives. “Eighteen more bodies have been identified and the post mortem are in progress. Twelve bodies have not been identified as yet.”

On questions about recovery of the black box (flight data recorder) and the cockpit voice recorder, he said as per his information, the black box has not been recovered.

He also said counselling for cabin crew in various cities, including New Delhi, Kochi and Mangalore as they were in a “state of trauma” after the incident.

“We are overwhelmed by the kind of response of the local villagers who reached the spot and helped in rescue operations. Without them, the eight persons could not have survived,” Jadhav said.

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