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Foreign experts visit Havelian to probe PK-661 crash

Updated December 14, 2016


Foreign experts examine the wreckage of the plane.— AFP
Foreign experts examine the wreckage of the plane.— AFP

ABBOTTABAD/ RAWAL­PINDI/KARACHI: A team of foreign experts from the ATR manufactures visited the crash site in Havelian of a Pakistan International Airlines ATR-42 flight on Tuesday to help a Pakistani probe team working to ascertain the causes of the Dec 7 deadly incident that claimed the lives of all 47 people on board.

ATR is a France-based turboprop aircraft maker and its ATR 42-500 is a twin turboprop plane that carries 48 passengers in standard configuration and is capable of operations on both paved and unpaved strips. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a division of the US manufacturer.

A six-member team — three members each from France and Canada — visited the site and spent over four hours there.

The team, which is working with the safety investigation board (SIB) of the aviation division, collected parts of the wreckage of the crashed plane in bags and also took pictures.

Police sources said that a drone was also used to take pictures and make footage of the entire area, they said. However, the visiting team did not talk to locals, including eyewitness.

PIA chairman tenders resignation

Earlier, the six-member team had arrived in Islamabad on Monday to assist the Pakistani authorities in the investigations, an official of the aviation division said, adding that the visiting team had been provided elaborate security for their visit to crash site near Havelian as they had demanded.The ATR manufacturers had contacted the PIA and offered assistance in the probe and the airline conveyed their offer to the SIB.

Shakedown begins as ATR fleet grounded

The PIA has grounded its entire ATR fleet and begun testing all 10 aircraft in the wake of the PK-661 crash and another incident in which the pilot of an ATR-42 aircraft aborted the take-off of a Karachi-bound flight at Multan airport.

“In view of the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision of holding shakedown tests of PIA’s entire ATR fleet, it has been decided to keep all 10 ATR aircraft grounded till they are cleared after thorough examination,” said PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani.

“The CAA and PIA’s quality control department are taking part in this thorough examination in which all ATR aircraft will be inspected one by one. Till their clearance all 10 ATR aircraft will remain grounded,” he added.

He conceded that the flight operation to smaller airports — Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Moenjodaro, Zhob, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Chitral and Gilgit — would be affected due to the temporary suspension of the ATR operation.

He said that the “shakedown” of the PIA’s ATR aircraft had been started.

PIA chairman resigns

Five days after the deadly crash that claimed the lives of all 47 people on board, the chairman of the PIA, Azam Saigol, tendered his resignation citing personal reasons.

The PIA spokesman told Dawn that the resignation was sent to the national flag carrier’s board on Monday.

He said that the chairman resigned due to personal reasons.

The resignation came after the Dec 7 deadly incident when a PIA plane crashed into a mountain in Havelian after one of its two turboprop engines failed.

Published in Dawn December 14th, 2016