MULTAN / RAWALPINDI / ABBOTTABAD: Five days after a PIA aircraft went down near Havelian killing all 47 people on board, another ATR-42 flight of the Pakistan International Airlines grabbed headlines on Sunday night when its pilot aborted the take-off of the Multan-Karachi flight.
The plane, carrying 48 people, was grounded because of some fault in one of its engines.
PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said the pilot observed some fault in an engine and brought the plane back to the bay after informing the air traffic control.
He said on the direction of the PIA’s chief operating officer, the plane has temporarily been grounded as a precautionary measure.
He said a team of engineers was being sent to Multan from Karachi and the aircraft would be made operational after its clearance.
Mr Gilani said that outstation passengers had been provided hotel accommodation till the next available flight. He denied media reports that flight PK-581’s engine had caught fire.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said the flight had been cancelled because of some fault in the plane.
He denied some TV reports that the entire ATR fleet of the PIA had been grounded.
At a press conference recently, the PIA chairman said that the national flag carrier had been operating 11 ATRs before the plane crash near Havelian on Wednesday. He said that one of the planes had already been grounded before the crash.
The PIA spokesman on Sunday said: “After the Multan incident, the number of ATR planes has reduced to eight.”
A special team of the France-based turboprop aircraft manufacturer ATR will reach Islamabad on Monday to assist the Pakistani authorities investigating Wednesday’s plane crash near Havelian.
An official of the Aviation Division told Dawn that all the evidence collected from the site would be shared with the visiting team.
“The four-member team — two of them associated with the ATR aircraft manufacturer and two from the engine manufacturing company — will stay in Pakistan for two to four days,” he said.
The official said the team would meet those associated with the investigation and see the evidence collected.
“We will provide the foreign team all the parts and equipment collected from the crash site, if they desired to take them along with them,” the official said.
He said the authorities had the lists of all the evidence collected and the special team might not visit the site due to “security reasons”.
Answering a question, the official said: “The inquiry may take time because foreign technical assistance, decoding of the ‘black box’ of the ATR-42 aircraft and verification of some other important things are involved. We have to find the exact cause of the crash and also if there was negligence on the part of any individual.”
The ATR manufacturer had offered assistance in the inquiry. “The officials of the ATR contacted the PIA for the assistance in the probe into the plane crash and we conveyed this offer to the Safety Investigation Board (SIB) of the Aviation Division that is investigating the incident,” a PIA spokesman said.
The spokesman said that over 1,200 ATR-42 and ATR-72 had been made using engines manufactured by one of the world’s most reliable manufacturers, Pratt & Whitney, which had provided more than 13,000 commercial engines to a range of aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus, since 1925, in addition to providing more than 7,300 engines for multiple military aircraft.
A brother of the Chinese engineer Han Qiang, who had died in the incident, visited the crash site along with his host on Sunday, laid a wreath there and observed a two-minute silence. He had given samples at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad for the DNA test before going to Havelian.
According to police sources, the Chinese visitors performed some rites at the site and remained there for some time.
The Chinese engineer was working on the Golan Gol hydroelectric power project in Chitral. He was going to Islamabad to attend a meeting and was among three foreigners killed in the crash.
A two-member team of an insurance company from the United Kingdom also visited the site, took photographs of the wreckage of the plane and the area and collected data, police officials said.
However, it was told that the investigation team which had spent the past three days at the site had strictly ordered the police to cordon off and not to allow anyone to enter the 80 metres long and 50m wide area where the wreckage of the plane and belongings of the passengers were spread, or to take away anything.
An official said two platoons of police were deployed at the site.
PIA on propeller
A PIA spokesman rebutted media reports that the propeller of one of the engines of the crashed aircraft had started to spin in reverse, or had some known defect prior to take-off, which led to the accident, APP adds from Karachi.
These reports were mere speculations which might mislead the public into drawing wrong conclusions, he said.
“Fact of the matter is that both engines of the aircraft were fully operational at the time of take-off from Chitral and some problem developed during flight.
“The whole incident is being thoroughly investigated by Safety Investigation Board (SIB), which is an independent body working under the Aviation Division.
“All items recovered from the site, including cockpit instruments, are part of the evidence and may give valuable insights about the cause of the accident, but cannot provide conclusive evidence in isolation.
“The public should rest assured that SIB is under instructions from the prime minister of Pakistan that a detailed, independent and transparent inquiry be carried out and truth should be brought out and shared with the people in the shortest possible time.
“Therefore, media is requested to wait till the investigation process is completed and refrain from drawing any premature conclusions,” the spokesman said.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2016