Investigators find flight data recorder three days after Air India flight crashed, killing 158

By Ashok Sharma, AP
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flight data recorder of crashed Indian plane found

NEW DELHI — Investigators recovered the digital flight data recorder Tuesday of the Air India flight that crashed and killed 158 people in southern India over the weekend, police said.

The device, which indicates the plane’s speed, angle and landing approach, could provide clues about India’s deadliest air accident in 14 years. The Boeing 737-800 flight from Dubai to the Indian city of Mangalore overshot a hilltop runway, crashed and plunged over a cliff Saturday, and officials said human error may have been to blame.

Aviation investigators had found the other black box — the cockpit voice recorder — in the wreckage on Sunday. Earlier reports had erroneously said both black boxes were found Sunday, but police later said the second device was found Tuesday.

“It’s intact,” police officer Seemant Kumar said.

Saturday’s crash was the deadliest in India since the November 1996 mid-air collision between a Saudi airliner and a Kazakh cargo plane near New Delhi that killed 349 people.

India’s Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said Monday that human error might have caused the weekend crash. Weather conditions and other factors at the time “looked absolutely normal for a regular touchdown and a safe landing,” the minister told the CNN-IBN television news channel.

Of the 166 passengers and crew aboard, only eight people survived the crash.

Air India flew the body Tuesday of the flight’s commander, Zlatko Glusica, to Frankfurt where it will be received by his son and brother and later taken to his native Serbia, airline spokesman K. Swaminathan said. Glusica, 55, had flown for Air India for three years.

Meanwhile doctors conducted DNA tests on 22 bodies that were so badly burned that relatives could not identify them, said Suresh Babu, an official at Wenlock hospital in Mangalore. They included a 2-year-old boy.

The flight from Dubai carried some of the millions of Indians who work as cheap labor in the Middle East back to their families during India’s summer holiday season.

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