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'Sleepy pilot' caused Air India crash that killed 158

Pilot of flight from Dubai to Mangalore was 'disorientated' as plane came in to land, court of inquiry report said to conclude.

A sleepy pilot who approached the runway at the wrong angle and ignored warning signs was to blame for a passenger plane crash in southern India in May that claimed 158 lives, reports said today.

A court of inquiry investigation concluded the Air India pilot, Zlatko Glusica, from Serbia, was asleep for much of the three-hour flight and was "disorientated" when the plane started to descend, the Hindustan Times reported.

The low-cost Air India Express plane flying from Dubai to the city of Mangalore overshot the runway, plunged into a gorge and burst into flames. Eight people survived the inferno.

The official crash report, which has not been released publicly, was submitted to the civil aviation ministry yesterday.

Voice recordings picked up the co-pilot saying: "We don't have runway left," seconds before the disaster.

Most of the dead were Indian migrant workers returning from the Gulf, in particular the UAE.

The six-member court was set up to investigate the cause of India's first major air crash since 2000 and its worst aviation disaster since 1996, when two jets collided in mid-air over New Delhi, killing nearly 350 people.

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