Indian Mid Air Collision Investigation

Date:         20 Nov 96 05:48:29 
From:         shahid siddiqi <s.a.siddiqi@larc.nasa.gov>
Organization: as&m
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Here're some excerpts from an Indian Newspaper
regarding the collision:

NEW DELHI, November 15: The Court of Inquiry into Tuesday's mid-air
collision between two airliners has been asked to submit its findings to
the Government by February 15. The team will visit the crash site tomorrow.
The Government today issued a notification, setting into motion a formal
investigation into the mishap by High Court judge R C Lahoti.

Lahoti will be assisted by two experts, who have been appointed assessors
to the Court. They are Capt A K Verma, General Manager (Training) with
Air-India and Air Commodore (retired) T Pannu of the Indian Air Force. V
K Arora, Controller of Airworthiness, Directorate of Civil Aviation will
function as Secretary to the Court.

The notification said, ``It appears to Central Government that it is
expedient to hold formal investigations into the circumstances of the said
accident.'' The probe has been ordered under Rule 75 of the Aircraft Rules
1937.  Under the rules such inquiries are held in an open court, but there
is a provision allowing evidence to be recorded in camera if the Court
deems fit.  All sides can demand to be heard at the inquiry.

The Court will be based at Delhi.  Though the terms of reference of the
Court were officially not given, it is understood that it will state its
findings as to the cause of the accident and the circumstances thereof.
The Court may add any recommendation and observation which it thinks fit
with a view to preservation of life and avoidance of similar accidents in
future.

The Court has also been given the brief to make a recommendation for the
cancellation, suspension or endorsement of any license or certificate
issued under the 1937 Aircraft Rules.

Since the two aircraft involved in the disaster were registered abroad,
accredited representatives of Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan may participate
in the investigations accompanied by a technical advisor.

The immediate task before the Court of Inquiry is to decide whether the
black boxes of the ill-fated aircraft are to be sent for decoding to obtain
vital clues on the possible cause of the crash.

Kazakhstan has already requested that the black boxes of the Il-76 aircraft
comprising the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder
(DFDR) be sent to Moscow for decoding process.  The decoding exercise may
take upto 10 days.

Meanwhile, France, Germany, Britain and Spain have expressed sympathy over
the mishap.  Ambassadors and charges d' affaires from these countries met
Civil Aviation Minister C M Ibrahim today, offering assistance which may
be needed by the authorities.

Civil Aviation officials are also reportedly in touch with Saudia, to get
the airline pay up the mandatory compensation of $ 20,000 to each of the
victims.  A majority of passengers on the Dahran-bound flight were Indians.

The Civil Aviation Ministry said today that the sophisticated radar system,
bought from American-company Raytheon, was likely to be commissioned by
next March.  The testing of the system still remains to be carried out,
it said.  The government will also send a formal request soon to the US
administration to make available for questioning pilots of an American
military plane who reportedly witnessed the mid-air collision between two
planes on Tuesday even as an official panel called for two separate air
corridors at the Delhi airport.

The US military plane was in the vicinity of the mid-air collision.  The
demand by the Air Traffic Control Guild for two separate corridors for
incoming and outgoing aircraft at the Delhi airport secured the endorsement
of an official panel headed by former Air Marshal J K Seth.

The panel, set up in September to review the air navigation system, also
recommended the setting up of a government-run institute for flight safety.
The Seth Committee also wanted the Civil Aviation authorities to hold
talks with the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the question of making available
two separate air corridors for civilian aircraft.

The IAF has been restricting some parts of the air space over New Delhi
for security reasons.  ``There should be separate corridors for ascending
and descending aircraft,'' the Seth Panel said while also recommending
setting up of a national board for air accidents.  According to the Seth
Committee, separate air corridors would lead to easier targeting of
aircraft during peak hours.  However, this facility is no guarantee for
avoiding air accidents, it said.

Meanwhile, 80 more bodies of the victims were shifted to the capital today
for embalming.  The bodies, which have not been claimed by anyone till
now, were brought from the crash site in Charkhi Dadri in Haryana in seven
trucks to Sucheta Kriplani Hospital and the All India Institute of Medical
Sciences here and will be kept for identification after the embalming
process gets over.

Of the 80 bodies, 36 have been taken to the Sucheta Kriplani Hospital and
the rest to the AIIMS, hospital sources said.  The unclaimed bodies could
not be moved to the local hospital in Dadri since there was no mortuary
and the bodies had started decomposing.  Only 125 of the 312 passengers
of the Saudi plane could be identified.  Bodies of all the 39 victims who
were on board the Kazakh airliner have been identified.