The news broke through calls and messages, waking up the whole Indian Aviation community. Even before people could wake up, their eyes were wide open : the crash of an Air India Express aircraft while landing into the coastal city of Mangalore, after a flight over the Arabian Sea, from Dubai, as IX 812.
With photos from the wreckage, the aircraft was identified as VT-AXV (cn 36333/2481), a Boeing 737-800. News which must be treated with caution report 169 POB (People on board), of which only 6 are reported to have survived the crash.
The aircraft landed on Runway 24 (the new, longer, west facing runway), in weather which is unclear (due to unavailability) at this point of time. After landing, the aircraft apparently over-ran the runway, and crashed from the table top that Mangalore Airport (ICAO :VOML; IATA : IXE; Name: Bajpe) rests on.
Till the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is recovered, and experts reliably timeline the crash, speculation is rife in the industry as a landing gone terrily wrong. Contained henceforth in this article is a mixture of facts and speculation:
As reported by Capt SK: All but 6 POB died, First officer Ahuwalia, Capatain was a Spanish national.
As reported by Capt PR : IXE (managlore airport) is a plateau only 8000ft and the aircraft couldn't stop, and went over the edge.
A shocked Capt JK : Mangalore has always seen him extremely alert. Its the only approach in India that he has seen being performed with a 4 red (on the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI): a visual indication from the runway regaring your approach profile). Normally, an approach is flown with 2 white and 2 red, with four red indicating a "terribly low on approach" profile. "There is no room for a smooth landing in Mangalore. Its got to be hard and sure"
An A320 Commander, HSD, who used to fly the P 68s: "I always used to sweat when I used to land into Mangalore (with the then shorter 09 -27 runway). Its scary; all I always hoped was for the aircraft to stop on the runway"
Capt AT : First Officer H L Ahluwalia, who's been flying from 20 years, and has an ATPL. Captain is Serbian.
Have a look at the "table top" that Mangalore airport is on, in images got from google Earth.
Google Earth, Washington Post
Airliners.net : Images are the copyright of the photographers, as mentioned in the photo.