Alliance Air Flight 7412

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Flight CD-7412
Accident summary
Date 17 July 2000
Summary In-flight loss of control
Site Patna, Bihar, India
Passengers 52
Crew 6
Injuries (non-fatal) 5 (2 on ground)
Fatalities 60 (5 on ground)
Survivors 3
Aircraft type Boeing 737-2A8
Operator Alliance Air
Registration VT-EGD
Flight origin Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata, India
Last stopover Lucknow, India
Destination Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India

Alliance Air Flight 7412 departed Calcutta (Kolkata) at 06:51 on July 17, 2000, for a flight to Delhi, with stops at Patna and Lucknow. The crew had been cleared to land at runway 25 at Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport at Patna when the pilots requested a 360-degree orbit due to the flight being high on the approach. Permission was granted and a left turn was initiated. During the left turn, the aircraft stalled. The plane then grazed a few single-storied houses in a government residential housing estate and crashed in a government residential colony behind Gardani Bagh Girls School at Anishabad, which is located about 2 km southwest of the Patna Airport.[1] The aircraft broke into four pieces.

Investigation[edit]

The aircraft in question, VT-EGD, had been involved in an earlier accident. On January 15, 1986, the pilot of flight 529 attempted to land at Tiruchirapalli in conditions below weather minima (reported Wx was exactly the minima). During a go-around (wave-off, just before touch down) the wing contacted the runway due to an excessive bank angle (the delay in spool up times for both engines were more than 5 seconds apart with the right engine slow). The HIALS was not switched on at the time 529 was approaching and the ATC anemometer was unserviceable. The wing was substantially damaged, but there were no injuries among the 6 crew and 122 passengers. The pilot displayed great skill in manually flying the B737 at FL100 and diverted to Chennai and landed safely with flight controls in "manual reversion" on runway 07 [1] The aircraft was to be phased out by the end of the year per Indian government guidelines which do not allow aircraft over 20 years old to operate in Indian airspace.[2]

However, the final investigation noted pilot error as the cause of the plane crash.[3] According to the panel, the crew had not followed the correct approach procedure, which resulted in the aircraft being high on approach. The engines had been kept at idle thrust, which allowed the air speed to decline below the allowed minimum for approach and caused the aircraft to stall. The inquiry also pointed out that the airport had "several operational constraints, resulting in erosion of safety margins for operation of Airbus 320s and Boeing 737s."

The flight crew consisted of captain Manjit Singh Sohanpal and co-pilot Arvind Singh Bagga. A criminal case, filed against them based on the statement of a surviving passenger, was later withdrawn.[4][5] Both Captain Sohanpal and co-pilot Bagga died in the accident.[6]

Controversy[edit]

There were a number of aspersions cast on the maintenance of flights by Alliance Air, with the then civil aviation minister Sharad Yadav reportedly unhappy with the maintenance of the aircraft [7] and asking for replacement of a number of additional aircraft.[7] Some reports even claimed that one of the engines was on fire before the crash.[8] However, the investigation clearly said the aircraft was fully airworthy and was properly maintained.[9]

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Coordinates: 25°36′39″N 85°08′34″E / 25.61083°N 85.14278°E / 25.61083; 85.14278