Wind shear may have caused the tragedy

Published Apr 20, 2012 11:02pm

map-bhoja-air-670
Soon after the accident, the government ordered an inquiry. It will be conducted by aviation regulator – CAA’s Safety Investigation Board. - Photo by Dawn

ISLAMABAD: As the pilots of Bhoja Air Flight B4-213 attempted to land amidst rain and strong winds, the unlucky aircraft might have flown into an unexpected wind shear that possibly smashed it on the ground below.

Soon after the accident, the government ordered an inquiry. It will be conducted by aviation regulator – CAA’s Safety Investigation Board. It would be months before the CAA team comes up with an explanation for the accident.

The probe will look into various aspects -- weather, pilots’ role, the condition of equipment, and handling by air traffic controllers and sabotage. Safety record of the airline, whose operations remained suspended for not fulfilling the required criteria, would certainly come under question.

However, pilots and air accident experts, who helped Dawn analyse the tragedy by putting together the chronology of events, say the crash was fairly consistent with what could have been caused by a wind shear. Unfortunately neither the ageing aircraft nor the ill-equipped airport had wind shear detection systems that could have forewarned the pilots and ground controllers. The result was a catastrophe. Wind shear is a meteorological phenomenon involving fast changing wind patterns, mostly downdrafts, that could cause a landing aircraft to lose speed and altitude. If proven this could be possibly the first case of air crash in Pakistan caused by wind shear.

An official of the Met Department confirmed wind shear in the area surrounding the airport at the time of the crash. The pilots were landing under a strong headwind of 30 knots (about 35 mph) picking up to a maximum of 40 knots (some 46 mph) after getting clearance from air traffic control at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Airport Manager Ashfaq Hussain confirmed that the aircraft had been cleared to land and there wasno signal of distress from the pilots till they were last in contact with the traffic controllers.

The plane at the time of the accident was flying at about 1500 to 1800 feet. Witnesses say that then it suddenly started to drop and within seconds plummeted to the ground. As the aircraft was making an approach for landing, it is evident that pilots had reduced engine power by then and once caught in the wind shear they had very little time to increase the speed to come out of it.

The aircraft apparently then stalled and fell to the ground. Air planes while landing particularly become vulnerable to wind shear because the wheels and flaps are down, inducing a drag, and engines are not operating at full throttle, making it difficult to remain airborne. On the ground the Bhoja Air jet broke into four pieces with no major signs of burning.

Waleed Hassan, an aviation enthusiast, talking to this correspondent from the site of the accident, said he hadn’t seen any fire tenders putting out fire or smelt burnt substance.

Yes, some of the recovered engine pieces were blackened. This was consistent with the claims by some witnesses, who said they saw one of the engines on fire before the jet came down. Experts say the pilots after getting caught in wind shear may have tried to get out of it by applying power, but one of the engines in the process may have flamed out, in causing the plane to go into ‘unusual attitude’. A lesser likelihood, the experts said, could be fuel depletion.

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Comments (17) (Closed)


ougee
Apr 22, 2012 03:08am
this a/c was cat 3 ils certified, has anyone considered if the skipper was also cat 3 ils certified? anyway my condolences to family and frieds who are deeply affected by this disaster
farhan
Apr 21, 2012 12:46pm
I feel sorry for Bhoja airlines. The wind sheer factor has been adequately described in one of the Nat Geo Air crash investigations. If the aircraft was airworthy without having wind shear equipment and airport did not have it either, than it was clearly the fault of controller for taking this risk. But the controller being the investigator, all the fault would naturally be blamed on the airline and the pilot who is already dead. May Allah bless all the departed souls
farhan
Apr 21, 2012 12:47pm
Sorry by controller, I mean the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority
arsalan
Apr 21, 2012 12:48pm
This is not accident but it is incident,it shows lack of civil aviation authority(CAA) as last tlme on June 28/10 airblue plane crashed could not learn the lessons to concerned authorities. othersided bad govenance has failed to make the better system besides all sectors are under turmoil in the country.May ALLAH blessed the hearts of 127 peole's families who were on board of this tragic incident.
zara
Apr 21, 2012 02:07pm
after listening the metrologist(D G ISB MET) view that the weather condition was not appropriate and they have issued the warning twice .....then why the controller allowed them to land....they should be diverted to lahore...the rest Allah knows the better...May Allah blessed these pessengers in high heavens.....and save us from the tragic incidents.(Ameen)
Dr.Muhammad Arif Nad
Apr 21, 2012 04:28pm
*when weather was not favourable,why the concerned authority give the clearance for fly or lending. *there seems to be technical fault the pilot could not take up the plane to height,may be fuel shortage or engine fault. *the peoples behind this negligence should be punished. *May ALLAH laid to rest the souls of the deceased and sabr to there families.
Dr Ather
Apr 21, 2012 05:03pm
There are incidents over incidents where innocent citizens and soldiers of this country are suffering with a totally senseless government sitting silently. The aviation authority like any other organization in this country sits silently. They have no respect for rules and following rules is not considered an option, the attitude of it does not matter you can play around with rules and regulation. A country which is innately corrupt, the administrative bodies can not enforce rules. we still do not know what really happened to the Air Blue, we will after one year would be saying the same thing about Bhoja and God forbid some other in future. alive nations learned from there mistakes and modify. we only believe in covering up our mistakes and putting all the garbage under the carpet in the land of the pure.
Razaullah
Apr 21, 2012 08:02pm
pilots are told about bad weather while in-route,plus the tower log should be checked for landings just before this aircraft,pilots also report turbulence so it was a disconnect between the parties,otherwise alternate airport w/b a good choice.
Abrar
Apr 21, 2012 08:16pm
Met factors may be present but we are not living in an age where such natural forces cant be dealt with. We are living in a modern era when accidents of this scale are clearly the fault of the owner (regulator in this case). Planes are not supposed to update themselves. Even if the plane was not equipped with such facilities, the ground staff must have the information about the prevailing wind on the ground. So, they are also responsible for the accident. may the souls of the deceased rest in heaven
Ali
Apr 22, 2012 12:05am
Man, the airport authoriy, controllers, weathers needs reform, the plane needs reforms, and what not. Let us hope that such incidents are avoided in future.
Ahmed
Apr 21, 2012 09:20pm
I was standing on the roof of my office under a shelter with two sides covered, at the same time when the plane crashed with my face almost in the same direction and suddenly strong wind surrounded me to the extent that I was feeling difficulty in getting hold myself. I don't think that in such severe weather the pilot would be confident that he would land the plane safely, staking the life of 127 people. Dictionary is the only place in Pakistan where you can find the word "Justice","Law", "Investigation" and "Authority". The tragedy is that now everyone would blame the pilot because he is no more among us so there is nothing bad in blaming him. It was bad weather, fatal decision of pilot or wrong communication by control tower, Allah knows better but one thing is for sure that the families of the victims would never get their loved ones back even if some miracle happens and they get the justice. May Allah give them the power to bear this irrecoverable loss and save all of us from "Justice" of Pakistan "Law" and "Authorities". (Ameen)
Arshad
Apr 21, 2012 09:39pm
This is an example of incompetency on every part. Why Bhoja airline was given permission to fly such an old aircraft ? ( CAA and current govt are answerable). Why the clearance was given despite bad weather conditions ? ( control tower people). Has anybody checked if the pilot is competent enough to deal with emergencies? Has anybody checked if he is not an extremetist ?? I feel sorry to aur media who were propagating since yesterday that this accident was due to our " wrong deeds as a muslim". Had we been sensible enough we should investigate Azad Kashmir earthquake, floods, air craft falling incident and punish the culprit and not blaming everything as " God's decision" ?
rohail khan
Apr 21, 2012 10:07pm
am work in air France Dubai as par my knowledge this Boeing 737-200-ct43 already have airworthiness problem Pakistan civil aviation responsible this incident smal airline buy 22 years old aircraft they have no life take off hours and landing hours any way as soon as possible Boeing investigation issue pres release so just wait what will happen
M.YAR GONDAL
Apr 21, 2012 10:26pm
it is due to certain problem. Pray be to ALLAH safe us from any disaster.
Hassan Hafeez
Apr 22, 2012 01:52am
This is the most worst tregedy..may the souls of the decreased persons rest in peace n may Allah grant courage 2 their families 2 bear this loss...Ameen
B. Ally
Apr 22, 2012 06:57am
In an accident things happen in a spur of a moment and get beyond human control resulting into a terrible tragedy. Let us not jump at conclusions and be carried away by TV bound analysts and anchors who seems to know every subject with the a sound advice. Why we are not appreciating that after this tragic accident,rescue teams reached the scene fast even before our famous TV anchors when they were scrambling to distinguish between an helicopter and an aeroplane. The rescuers at crash site, the handling of dead bodies at hospital, Nadra based identification worked well and fast and within 24 hours bodies were being handed over to relatives. Why we can not appreciate that system worked fairly well in the wake of this sudden tragedy in-spite of the fact that we the public did play our founding part to create a chaos at the crash scene,at hospitals and at airports as famous on-lookers,media included who always thrust themselves in the face of professionals when they perform serious duties of helping the victims. Let us do some soul searching before blaming others.
kulsoom
Apr 24, 2012 11:48am
i totally agree, GOD wants us to change our life and way of spending the life,people come people go, but we should never forget the last destination.Allah hum sab ko nagahani aafat say mehfooz rakhy, Amin.