KARACHI, Dec 10: A small training aircraft of a private flying club developed a fault in mid-air and crash-landed in the Malir cantonment within half an hour of its take-off from the airport on Monday evening.
While the plane got damaged, both flight instructor and trainee pilot were reportedly unharmed.
This was the fourth crash landing made by a Schon Flying Club plane in recent months as earlier at least three small training aircraft belonging to the club had had a close call after developing faults in mid-air and crash-landed in areas close to the airport.
A representative of the club when contacted over the phone refused to say anything about the latest incident though Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Pervez George confirmed to Dawn the emergency landing of the training aircraft (registration No: AP BHT) of the Schon Flying Club.
Sources said Captain Fahad and trainee pilot Abu Bakar were on board when their small Cessna aircraft took off from Karachi airport at around 5pm on a training session. At around 5.25pm, the sources said, the pilot reportedly informed the air traffic control tower that he was around two miles — roughly 3.2 kilometres — from the airport and was returning to land, but then suddenly he called again before getting disconnected to say that the aircraft was losing altitude.
After some time, the sources said, the pilot called the air traffic control tower using his cellphone and informed it that he had landed safely and both of them were fine. But he added that the aircraft had been structurally damaged.
Responding to Dawn queries, a close relative of the trainee pilot, Abu Bakar, said she had only been informed that the aircraft had landed and that the occupants were safe.
Despite her requests she had not been able get through with her relative who she was informed was undergoing medical tests at that time, she told Dawn.
The sources said that aircraft of the Schon Flying Club had been making emergency / crash landings for the past many months.
At least three such incidents had been reported in the past. In one incident, the aircraft landed off the Superhighway. In another incident, the aircraft landed near the link road connecting the Superhighway and the National Highway. In yet another incident, the aircraft landed in a playground in a thickly-populated area of Malir.
Fortunately, the sources said, pilots and trainees in all the incidents remained safe unlike the Lahore crash landing that had left both the instructor and trainee dead.
The sources said it was responsibility of the CAA in general and its airworthiness department in particular to ensure that the all aircraft flying in the Pakistani skies were airworthy. But the rising number of crash landing due to mid-air faults in planes put a question mark over performance of the CAA airworthiness department.