Causes of the Charkha Dadri Mid-Air Collision
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Published: Mon, 16 Apr 2018
On 12th November in the year 1996 over the village of charkha Dadri, the fateful charkha Dadri mid air collision, involved two Saudi Arabian airlines Boeing 747-100B that was en route to Dhahran from New Delhi, and a Kazakhstan Airlines IIyushin II-76 that was en route to Kazakhstan from Shymkent (Cooper 2). The crash caused total fatalities of 349 people who were on board in the two planes with no survivors making it the world’s deadliest mid air collision and the deadliest aviation accident to occur in India. The accident was rated as the third- deadlist aircraft accident in the history of aviation behind Tenerife airport disaster and Japan Airlines (Cooper 4).
Facts about the accident
According to the investigations carried out the Boeing 747-100B from Saudi Arabian airlines, which was registered as HZ-ALH (SVA763) was flying from Indira Gandhi int’l Airport Delhi India to Dharan international airport Dhahran Saudi Arabia with 289 passengers and 23 crew member making it a total of 312 people on board (Burns 3). The second aircraft wasUN-76435 (KZA1907) a llyushin II-76 operated by the Kazakhstan airlines flying from Shymkent int’l airport to Indira Gandhi int’l Airport with 27 passengers and 10 crew members making it a total of 37 people on board. The SVA763 departed from New Delhi at 18:32 local time while the KZA1907 was at the similar time descending to make its landing at New Delhi (Burns 2). The two flights were under the approach controller VK Dutta. KZA1907 was cleared to go down to 15,000 when 74 miles from the airport while the SVA763 which was also travelling on the same airway but in the opposite direction was also cleared to ascend to 14,000 feet eight minutes later (Burns 4). At 18:40 local time KZA1907 gave a report to have reached its assigned altitude of 15,000 feet but was lower at 14,500 feet at was still descending (Burns 2).
When the controller Dutta called the KZA1907 again he received no reply, he tried to warn of the other flight’s distance but the timing was too late. The two aircraft collided where the tail of KZA1907 cut through the SVA763’s left wing and the horizontal stabilizer. The crippled Boeing after being hit lost control and went into hasty descending twisting motions towards the ground with a huge fire trailing from its hit wing (Ashraf 3). Due to the stress in the air the Boeing broke up in air before the wreckage hit the ground with an estimated speed of 1,135km/h. Owing to the speed that the plane was descending with it was almost impossible for anyone to survive the crash. On the other hand the IIyushin remained structurally unbroken as it went in a firm but fast and hysterical dive until it crashed in the field (Cooper 4).
After the arrival of the rescuers, they discovered four critically injured passengers from the IIyushin carried first aid and rushed them to the hospital. The four injured later died due to the fatal injuries they succumbed. Connectively, other two passengers from the Saudi flight also were found to have survived the fatal crash as they were still strapped to their seats on the wreckage aircraft. However, due to internal injuries the two passengers also died soon after the rescue (Burns 3). Thereby making it that there were no any survivor from the mid air collision as all the passengers and crew members in the two aircrafts died. According to the only eye witness to the accident, Captain Timothy J who is a pilot attached to the United States Air Force, he described the event as fatal where he saw a huge cloud that was lit up through an orange flame. The crash happened about 60 miles west of Delhi , the Saudi aircraft crashed near Dhani village which is in Bhiwani district while the Kazakhstani aircraft wreckage hit near Borohar village in Rohtak district (Ashraf 3).
After the investigations were carried out the Saudi Arabian airline took its Boeing 747 cockpit equipment to London England rather than India while the Kazakh place was taken to Moscow. The ultimate failure was attributed to the Kazakhstan airlines flight 1907’s pilot neglecting to follow the ATC instructions. Alternatively, whether there were cloud turbulence or communication problems (Ashraf 2). According to the commission of inquiry that was set up to establish the main cause of the accident, it was concluded that the accident main cause was the fault of the Kazakhstani II-76 Commander who as per the FDR evidence had descended from his assigned altitude of 15,000 to 14, 500 feet and afterwards even lower. It was due to breach of operating procedure which every pilot is expected to follow without deviation as it gives guidelines on how to steer the aircraft. The report also indicated that deficient of English language experience on Kazakhstani aircraft pilot’s part since they were entirely, dependent on their radio machinist for connections with the ATC (Cooper 4).
Another factor that contributed to the crash in the Kazakhstani aircraft was that the radio operator did not have his own flight instruments he had to look over the pilots’ shoulder for his to access the reading. According to the report from the Kazakhstani officials the aircraft had descended while the pilots were fighting turbulence inside a thick cumulus clouds. It was also established that Indian air controllers also were complaining that pilots from Kazak occasionally, puzzle their calculations since they are familiar to using the metric structure to standardize height and distance. Kazak pilots normally use different methods of calculation while the rest of the world use nautical miles and feet (Burns 4). It was also established that the Kazakhstani 1907 radio operator discovered that they were not flying at the assigned 15,000, feet and requested the pilot to ascend further. The captain issued instructions for full throttle and the aircraft ascended a little only to hit the oncoming Saudi planes. It is always said that the Kazakhstani pilots had failed to climb slightly, their aircraft would have slightly passed beneath the Saudi plane (Burns 11). Moreover, the Indira Gandhi international airfield did not have secondary surveillance radar as required by aviation laws. The radar is used in providing extra data for example the aircraft’s identity and height by reading the transponders signals. Additionally, the New Delhi civilian airspace had one air corridor for arrivals and departures, most airports separate departures and arrivals into separate corridors this was since the rest of air space was taken by Indian Air Force (Ashraf 6).
After the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision recommendations were made for the airspace and the airport so that they could avoid such future catastrophe among them were installation of secondary radar in the air port. Secondly, a mandatory collision avoidance equipment n all commercial aircrafts operating in Indian air space and reduction of airspace over New Delhi which was initially under the Indian air force. The Kazakhstani pilots were also to be retrained in using world wide readings of nautical miles and feet so as they can be as the rest of world wide pilots.
Ashraf, Syed F. “Charkhi Dadri collision report expected this weekend”. Rediff (New Delhi). 2013. print.
Burns, John F. (14 November 1996). “Indian Officials Gather Evidence on Midair Collision”. The New York Times. 1996. print.
Cooper, Kenneth J. “At Least 349 Are Killed in Collision”. The Washington Post. 1996. print
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