Air India is India’s oldest and the only surviving public air carrier that was formed by J.R.D. Tata in 1932. In 1953 Government of India nationalized Air India by Air Corporations Act. In 2011 Air India merged with Indian Airlines to form Air India Limited. In Air India’s service spanning nearly 80 years there have been numerous hijacks and crashes. Here is list of top 10 Air India incidents.
10. Passenger Jumps Out of a Plane After Landing (2012)
On May 15, 2012, an impatient man jumped out of a Dubai-Chennai Air India flight the moment it touched down and came to a halt at Chennai. The person identified as Kamal Basha Ahmed unbuckled his seat and ran towards the exit as the plane touched down, but crew members instructed him to go back to his seat. He then overpowered the crew members to open the door manually, which deployed the emergency inflatable chute. The chute broke his fall and saved him from grave injuries. On questioning, Kamal looked tired and deprived of sleep. He was sent back from Dubai by his father to consult a doctor as he was unable to handle the work pressure. More than 100 passengers onboard had to face delays in disembarking.
9. Air India Nosedive (2010)
In May 25, 2010, an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 went into a terrifying 7000 feet nosedive after the co-pilot accidently pressed the control column forward while trying to adjust his seat. One small mistake sent the aircraft in a 26-degree free fall. The plane was on its scheduled run from Dubai to Pune with 113 passengers onboard. The accident took place when the pilot was out of his seat for a bathroom break. Obviously due to the free fall, captain of the plane was unable to gain entry into the cockpit and had to use emergency code to gain access to pull the plane out of its nosedive. No fatalities or serious injuries were reported onboard, but it was an experience that will haunt the minds of passengers for the rest of their lives. Just three days earlier Air India Express Flight 812 crashed in Mangalore (#5 on this list).
8. Unusual Hijacks
Apart from the terrorist hijacks, there have been many cases of hijacks with unusual requests by the Indian citizens.
On January 13, 1994, an A-320 Airbus Indian Airlines Bangalore-Madras aircraft with 63 people onboard was hijacked. The hijacker wanted the Marathwada University to be renamed after Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
On April 10, 1993, Lucknow-Delhi Flight IC-436 was hijacked by four college students, demanding that the problems plaguing the Lucknow Arts College be resolved and later the plane landed at Amausi airport.
On Jan 22, 1993, a Patna-Lucknow-Delhi Indian Airlines Flight IC-810 was hijacked by Satish Chandra Pandey shortly after take-off. Pandey demanded immediate construction of Ayodhya Ram Temple, lifting ban on RSS, the Bajrang Dal, and undertaking that the BJP would not be derecognized. He later surrendered at the insistence of senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
7. Baby Delivered on Air India Flight (2011)
In October of 2011, shortly after Toronto-bound Air India Flight 187 took off from Delhi, 35-year-old Kuljeet Kaur went into labour. On receiving the word, captain made an announcement and an onboard Indian doctor volunteered to help. The doctor was a pediatrician who had attended several births, but had no firsthand experience at delivering children. The doctor had to use what was available onboard and had to improvise. After 45 minutes a baby girl was delivered while the plane was flying over Kazakhstan airspace. The baby girl was named Aakash (sky) Leen Kaur. When the flight entered Canadian airspace, Captain Kapil Kohli radioed to ATC, “We departed with 268 passengers, but will be landing with 269.”
6. Indian Airlines Ganga Hijacking (1971)
Indian Airlines Fokker F27 Friendship aircraft named Ganga was hijacked by two Kashmiri militants, Hashim Quereshi and his cousin Ashraf Butt on January 30, 1971. After hijacking, militants demanded the plane be rerouted to Lahore in Pakistan. The crew members and passengers remained in the plane for 80 long hours before they were released. According to Hashim Qureshi, the Pakistani intelligence service requested that they destroy the plane. Therefore the plane was dowsed with kerosene by them and set ablaze later. Ganga was one of the oldest Air Indian aircraft that was already withdrawn from service, but re-inducted just days before hijack. Pakistani officials later claimed that this hijacking was a false flag operation by Indian intelligence agency RAW and furthermore that Hashim Quereshi was an Indian BSF sub-inspector, but India formally denied all these allegations.
5. Air India Express Flight 812 Crash (2010)
Air India Express Flight 812 was a passenger flight flying from Dubai to Mangalore. On May 22, 2010, while landing the plane overshot the runway and fell over a hillside. Of the 166 people aboard, only 8 people survived. It is considered the third worst aviation disaster in India. Initial investigations revealed that the plane landed about 610 m beyond the designated touchdown point for an aircraft. The detailed enquiry reported submitted by Civil Aviation Ministry put forward that Captain Zlatko Glušica, a Serbian pilot aged 55 had slept over 90 minutes during the flight. Crash was finally blamed on pilot’s error and his inability to rectify aircraft’s incorrect flight path. At this point, it should be noted that this wasn’t the first time that a plane had overshot at Mangalore airport. In 1981, Indian Airlines Flight 557 overshot the Mangalore runway and came to a grinding halt just beyond the runway edge. Fortunately, no casualties were reported at that time.
4. Air India Flight 101 Crash (1966)
Air India Flight 101 named Kanchenjunga was a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft. On January 24, 1966 during its scheduled flight to London from Mumbai, captain of the plane accidently flew it into a mountain near Mont Blanc in France. None of 117 souls aboard survived the crash. Among the passengers killed was Homi Jehangir Bhabha, also known as the father of Indian Nuclear Programme. The reason for the crash is blamed on a faulty onboard instrument of which the captain had prior knowledge of. There is a conspiracy theory that CIA was involved with this crash possibly to cripple India’s nuclear programme. In 2012 a jute bag labelled “diplomatic bag” and “ministry of external affairs” recovered near the crash site in French Alps belonging to Homi Bhabha was handed over to India. At this point, it is to be noted that at almost the same spot in 1950 another aircraft, Air India Flight 245 had crashed killing everyone onboard.
3. Air India Flight 855 Crash (1978)
Air India Flight 855 crash is believed to be the second worst aviation disaster in India. The Boeing 747 aircraft named Emperor Ashoka was scheduled to fly from Bombay to Dubai on January 1, 1978. Just 101 seconds after taking off the runway in Mumbai, the jetliner plunged into the Arabian Sea nose down at 35-degree angle. Of the 213 people on board consisting of 190 passengers and 23 crew members, no one survived the crash. On investigation of the recovered wreckage, foul play was ruled out. Probable cause of the crash is believed to be irrational control inputs by the caption following failure of two flight instruments indicating altitude of the aircraft.
2. Air India Flight 182 Bomb Blast (1985)
Air India Flight 182 named Emperor Kanishka was a Boeing 747 aircraft operating on Montreal-London-Delhi route. On June 23, 1985, at an altitude of 9,400 m the aircraft was blown up by a bomb causing it to ultimately crash into Atlantic Ocean over Irish airspace. All 329 people onboard were killed, most of them being Canadian citizens. Investigations revealed that the explosives were planted in a radio inside a suitcase, whose owner never boarded the plane. This incident is considered to be the largest mass murder in Canadian history and also the deadliest aviation disaster over water. The main suspects were members of Sikh militant group Babbar Khalsa and other related groups based in Canada. Investigation and prosecution of the suspects lasted 20 years and was the most expensive trial in Canadian history costing them $130 million and at the end only one man, Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted in 2003. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
1. Indian Airlines Flight 814 Hijack (1999)
Indian Airlines Flight 814 en route from Katmandu to Delhi was hijacked on December 24, 1999 shortly after it entered Indian airspace. The plane had 178 passengers and 15 crew members on board. The plane made landings at Amritsar, Lahore, Dubai and finally in Kandahar. The plane was hijacked by five terrorists of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. They demanded freeing several terrorists serving time in Indian prisons in return for release of hostages. After seven days of intensive negotiations, Indian authorities finally gave in to their demands, but only agreed to release three terrorists. After those three terrorists landed in Kandahar, all hostages were released. One the passenger Rupin Katyal was killed while 17 others were injured in their seven-day ordeal with the terrorists.