Plane crash: PIA plane crash in Karachi was a human error, says report

Rescue workers plane crash Pakistan 1723d70a2e4 medium

Rescue workers gather at the site of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. File photo
Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Human error caused the tragic crash of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane in Karachi last month, says the provisional investigation report.

The report says that the crash was due to the negligence of both the cockpit crew as well as the air control tower — and not because of any technical fault.

There was apparently no technical fault in the aircraft, said the preliminary investigation report submitted to the Aviation Division in a high-level meeting on Monday.

PIA flight PK8303, carrying 99 people including eight crew members, crashed in to a populated residential area near Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport on May 22 while it was making its second attempt to land. Two people survived the crash while 97 passengers lost their lives.

Report prepared

Meanwhile, giving a policy statement in the National Assembly of Pakistan on Monday, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the interim report, as per the commitment, has been compiled within a period of one month after the tragedy took place on May 22. “The report is absolutely ready … we have received it and also discussed with the Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said. He said that he would present the report in the National Assembly session on Wednesday.

A day after the incident, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had notified an investigation team headed by its Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board (AAIB) President Air Commodore Usman Ghani, reported The Express Tribune.

On Monday, Air Commodore Ghani gave a detailed briefing to the Aviation Division officials. According to the report, the CAA officials, the cockpit crew, the control tower and the air traffic control repeatedly made mistakes. Sources privy to the document said the aircraft’s black box has so far not indicated the possibility of any technical fault.

Final report

However, a senior aviation official told Gulf News from Karachi that the provincial report has many loopholes and the facts would be clear only after the detailed report which would be released only after the decoding the black box, which has already been taken to France by the French Investigation Team. It may takes months to compile the final report.

SOPs violated

Initial investigation has revealed that multiple standard operating procedures (SOPs) were violated both, by the cockpit crew of the ill-fated Airbus A320 and the ATC. Apparently, warning signals and alarms in the cockpit of the Airbus A320 were ignored, which eventually led to the disaster.

The aircraft was flying way beyond the standard safe landing speed and altitude while it was as close as just four nautical miles from the landing strip of Karachi Airport and the Aerodrome Controller failed to check and raise an alarm over the non-deployment of the landing gear, which led to a near-disastrous first attempt to land, experts said.

As a result, both the engines of the plane scraped the surface of the runway thrice, which led to the failure of both the engines and eventually the crash.

Speed and altitude

The provisional report also said both the speed and the altitude of the aircraft was more than the recommended parameters when the pilot tried first landing. In the first landing, the aircraft touched the ground at the middle of 9,000 meter long runway.

The control tower permitted landing despite greater speed and altitude. The air traffic control also did not provide the control tower with the radio frequency.

The pilot also did not inform the control tower about jamming of the landing gears. It was also wrong decision on part of the pilot to attempt a second landing.

The plane stayed in the air for 17 minutes after the first landing attempt, a crucial time during which both the engines of the aircraft failed.

Engine fragments

It said fragments of the PIA aircraft’s engine stayed on the runway for 12 hours but the air site unit did not collect them and later other aircraft were allowed to land on the runway. This was a violation of the standard operating procedure as it could case damaged to other aircraft. It said the aircraft’s first engine was installed on February 25, 2019 while its second engine was installed on May 27, 2019.

All three landing gears of the aircraft were installed on October 18, 2014. The fateful plane was 16-year-old and was manufactured in 2004. The plane was included in the PIA fleet in October 2014.

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