Nation special report
Investigation into causes of crash of PIA passenger plane is continued and according to official sources, probe report would be completed in three-month time. Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Tuesday that the black box of Airbus 320 that crashed in Karachi had been found within 24 hours, but efforts were under way to recover the cockpit voice recorder.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, with 99 people on board, crashed in Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi last Friday, killing 97 (89 passengers and eight crew members). Two passengers miraculously survived.
In a news release, the minister said soon after the plane crash the departments concerned were directed to recover the bodies with the help of residents of the area within 24 hours and this difficult task was completed within time. “The black box of the plane had been recovered and handed over to the probe team to initiate speedy investigation, while efforts are under way to recover the cockpit voice recorder which will also be handed over to the investigation team,” he added.
He said the PIA and Civil Aviation Authority had been issued instructions to review the professional training, qualification and progress of pilots, engineers and professional training of all sectors associated with the aviation sector and submit to the government a report containing recommendations to improve the quality of work.
The father of Captain Sajjad Gul, the pilot of the ill-fated PIA aircraft, has said that his son was a “thorough professional” and demanded a fair probe. Upset over speculation, especially on social media holding Capt Gul responsible for the plane crash, Gul Muhammad Bhatti said: “It is sad that the PIA’s top hierarchy is getting Twitter reports leaked [blaming my son]. We have no trust in the inquiry committee but Prime Minister Imran Khan. Yesterday, Sajjad Gul was called our national hero and today….”
Mr Bhatti was talking to reporters after Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar called on him at his residence in Defence on Monday.
Capt Gul, he said, was the only pilot in the PIA who had completed 17,000 flying hours and last year he completed 1,000 hours.
“His competence cannot be questioned as even when he was facing death he remained calm and told the control tower that one of the engines was troubling and landing gear was not working,” he said.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah called on Mr Bhatti on Tuesday and assured him of a transparent investigation into the plane crash. The PIA has a total 32 planes — 12 Boeing-777, 11 Airbus and remaining ATRs.
No defect in engine
The engineering and maintenance department of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday claimed that there was “no defect related to the engine, landing gear or major aircraft system” of the ill-fated Airbus A-320.
In a brief on the technical history of the Airbus A-320, PIA stated that the last check of the plane was done on March 21 this year and it had flown from Muscat to Lahore a day before the crash.The summary further said the health of both engines was “satisfactory” and maintenance checks were being performed at intervals.
The report also revealed that the aeroplane was declared fit for flights till Nov 5, 2020 by the CAA. Sources said the first certificate of airworthiness was issued to Airbus A320-200 on Nov 6, 2014 to Nov 5, 2015. And after every year the airworthiness certificate was issued following a complete check of the plane.
Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturer Airbus in a statement said the aircraft in question had logged around 47,100 flight hours and 25,860 flight cycles and was powered by CFM56-5B4/P engines. The company said it is providing full technical assistance to Pakistani authorities in charge of the investigation.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of the crash, a PIA spokesman said. “The black box had been found late yesterday; we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said, clarifying that both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found.