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Badly-trained crew blamed for Bhoja Air crash

Published Feb 05, 2014 06:53pm


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Rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2012. – AFP Photo/File
Rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2012. – AFP Photo/File

KARACHI: The pilots of Bhoja Air, a Pakistani jetliner that plunged to the ground outside Islamabad in 2012 and killed 127 people were not trained to use its automated flight deck, investigators have found.

The Bhoja Air Boeing 737 from Karachi crashed in fields and burst into flames as it came in to land at the capital's Benazir Bhutto International airport during a storm in April 2012. There were no survivors.

In its official report, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) blamed the crew and Bhoja management for the crash, the second deadliest in the country's history.

The captain and his co-pilot had been trained to fly the Boeing 737-200 but not the more advanced 737-236 model which crashed, the CAA report said.

The newer model was equipped with an automated flight deck which the crew had not been trained to use, the report said.

“The information with regards to automation capacities of aircraft was not in the knowledge of cockpit crew even after the formal ground schooling, as the ground schooling did not cater for the automation of aircraft,” said the report, parts of which were seen by AFP.

In their concluding remarks the investigators said that “ineffective management of the basic flight parameters” such as air speed and rate of descent were among the main causes of the tragedy.

The eight-member investigation team was headed by an air commodore and included engineers, commercial and air force pilots, doctors and aviators.

Discussing the black-box recording of the cockpit conversation and air traffic control tower, the team observed that panic gripped the pilot in the severe weather conditions.

The captain was heard suddenly remarking that it had become dark, but he did not take any action to discontinue the approach.

He appeared not to trust the plane's automatic technology and at one point seemed confused that the plane was travelling at 220 knots instead of 190.

The crash was Islamabad's second in less than two years, after an Airblue plane hit the Margalla hills in July 2010 while coming in to land in bad weather, killing 152 – Pakistan's deadliest air accident.

Parts of the Bhoja Air plane's fuselage dragged across the ground for several kilometres in the crash and many of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

No one from the airline, which had its operations suspended by the CAA soon after the crash, was available for comment.

Comments (9) Closed

M. Mohsin Feb 05, 2014 07:18pm

A plane made in 1986 and grounded in 2000 is very advanced. why take a grounded plane and then blame it on the pilots as usual

usman786 Feb 05, 2014 08:26pm

they cannot be bad then what i saw on Al-jazeera who flew DC_3 in Columbia over Amazon forests.

5B Feb 06, 2014 12:05am

I work for a world-class pilot training organization. According to the record that is available to us, PIA has one of the least trained crew. PIA did not even use the free credits (training hours) that they were given with the purchase of 777, wasting millions of dollars of tax payers money. CAA is totally failed organization that has no real teeth to enforce regulations. CAA should not allow any airline to operate without getting a full certification from either FAA or EASA. Both agencies put extreme importance of flight safety and would not allow any pilot to fly out an airplane if he or she is not fully trained. The US flight traffic is 1000% more than flight traffic in Pakistan but compare the ratio of accident. It is a mind numbing difference.

Abdul Malik Feb 06, 2014 03:39am

CAA report is nothing but inconclusive. If the pilots were not trained to handle the automated flight deck of 737-236, as claimed by CAA investigation team, how come CAA cleared them to fly in the first place. Don't the flight crew need to complete a type course on a particular equipment followed by simulator training before actually flying the said aircraft?

BNS Feb 06, 2014 04:17am

Good, we now know why it happened. What is next? What are we planning to do to ensure it never happens again due to this reason?

Arshad Raza Feb 06, 2014 01:18pm

The perpetrators are the owners and the management, as this report says they were cutting corners and did not have basic training.

I am sure the owners and the management are sleeping peacefully unlike the families who have lost their love once in this tragic incident. I am sure the owners and management even do not feel that they have done something wrong, this is the biggest dilemma in Pakistan at the moment majority of Pakistanies are doing bad deeds and they think nothing wrong with this.

These people should be punished as per the law of the land and through speedy justice not after years and years. The problem is these perpetrators have their support in this Nation Assembly or perhaps they are sitting inside as the lawmakers therefore perhaps nothing will be done.

I am not surprise why people are taking the law in their own hands as they can see clearly that no one will be held responsible or punished.

Faheem K Feb 07, 2014 08:26pm

One of the million of sad story of our country where no one is properly trained starting from PM to the pilot.

abid Feb 08, 2014 06:59pm

@BNS: In Pakistan we talk and talk and talk, take notices, take suo motos but we don't take actions or fix systems because we are so busy taking revenge from Pervez Musharraf and increasing our bank balances in Switzerland.

Karamat K Feb 08, 2014 07:02pm

@5B: This happens because our governments appoint incapable corrupt friends to head PIA.