Eight people were able to jump through a crack in the fuselage of an Air India Boeing 737-800 and were the only survivors of a crash at the "tabletop airport" in Mangalore, India, early Saturday. The flight originated in Dubai. Weather conditions were apparently benign throughout the early morning period and authorities said visibility was good when the aircraft, with 166 people on board failed to stop, overran the runway, went through a wall of sandbags and 200-300 feet over a cliff. One little girl was pulled from the wreckage alive but died on the way to hospital. Both the flight data and cockpit voice recorders have been recovered. Some reports suggest the aircraft landed about 2,000 feet long and the crew was trying to go around. Others have pointed to Air India's ban on "hard landings" in which the touchdown exceeds 1.65 Gs and pilots are called on the carpet to explain the firm touchdown. There's also the inevitable focus on crew training and experience.
Mangalore is one of those notorious airports where the combination of active weather and the location of the runway makes it considered "difficult" to land at. The main runway 6/24 is 9515 feet long and the aircraft in question was using 24. Some reports say the runway was wet from light pre-monsoon rain. The captain of the aircraft was British citizen of Serbian descent, had 10,000 hours and had landed at Mangalore at least 26 times previously. His first officer had 3,500 hours and 66 landings at Mangalore.