One of the latest Boeing 737-800 aircraft in low cost carrier Air India Express’ (AIX) fleet, VT-AXV, performing flight IX-812 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Mangalore Bajpe, India overshot the runway early this morning while attempting to land, and crashed at 06:10 local (00:40Z) into a wooded valley near Kenjar village about ten km NE of Mangalore airport.
Initial reports indicate the aircraft hit the airport fence while attempting a go-around after the overshoot.
As per airport authorities, the plane was carrying 166 passengers including 137 adults, 19 children and 4 infants, and six crew members on board. The plane was in control of First Officer Harbinder Singh Ahluwalia. Both the crew are well experienced in general and at Mangalore Bajpe airport.
Village residents have rescued eight passengers who have been rushed to hospitals. Loss of life is expected to be heavy.
The aircraft is one of the latest entrants in the AIX fleet, having entered service in January 2008. Mangalore airport is plagued by hilly terrain and the airport has a table top runway. Emergency vehicles had a torrid time reaching the relatively inaccessible crash site.
A Help Desk has been set up at the Mangalore airport. The contact numbers are +91 (824) 222-0422 and 201-0167. At Delhi the numbers are +91 (11) 2565-6196 and 2560-3101.
Incidentally, news channels are showing the flight number as IX-892. The correct flight number is IX-812.
The DGCA has launched an investigation.
This Times of India site has a video report of the incident and the Wall Street Journal has released a picture of the crash site.
Update 1 – 18:00 IST (12:30Z)
As usual there is the usual and macabre speculation on the reasons behind the crash. It is much to premature to conclude the cause of the crash. Efforts should be made to locate and determine the information on the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the “black boxes”.
All ideas are being thrown around – the pilot was foreign (forget the fact he is well experienced and has an excellent reputation amongst the Indian pilot community), the topography is dangerous (yes the airport is more challenging to land at, but there are many similar airport across the world).
Instead of indulging in wasteful speculation, let us keep a sane head, and pray for those who lost their lives in this tragedy. Times of India has published a list of passengers here.