321 Sleep Inertia and False Glide Slope – Air India Flight 812 Crash

Max talks about two critical factors, sleep inertia and false glide slopes, which played significant roles in an Air India Express accident. Despite being unrelated phenomena, they converged to contribute to the crash of Flight 812 in 2010. Air India Express, a low-cost airline operating in India, experienced its first fatal crash during this flight.

The aircraft, a Boeing 737, was returning from Dubai to Mangalore, India. However, the cockpit voice recorder revealed that the captain had been asleep for a significant portion of the flight, awakening only shortly before the crash. Compounded by issues such as inadequate descent planning and reliance on visual cues due to radar unavailability, the crew found themselves on an unstabilized approach, ignoring multiple warnings and calls for a go-around from the first officer.

The aircraft ultimately overshot the runway, impacting various structures and resulting in numerous fatalities. Investigation highlighted the captain’s failure to discontinue the unstable approach as the primary cause, with contributory factors including sleep inertia and improper descent planning.

Max also talks about the technical aspects of false glide slopes, explaining how they can mislead pilots during instrument approaches. He emphasizes the importance of proper altitude management and approach verification to avoid tracking false glide slopes, which can lead to catastrophic consequences. Examples from aviation incidents and personal experiences underscore the criticality of adhering to correct procedures, particularly during instrument approaches.

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Mentioned on the Show
University of Southern California
Final Report – Air India Express 812 Accident

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