PIA: on a wing and a prayer

Updated 19 Dec 2016


A GOAT being offered as a sacrifice (sadqa) before the take-off of a PIA ATR-42 aircraft on Sunday.—INP
A GOAT being offered as a sacrifice (sadqa) before the take-off of a PIA ATR-42 aircraft on Sunday.—INP

RAWALPINDI: In an effort to seek divine intervention to keep a flight safe and secure, staff of the Pakistan International Airlines sacrificed a black goat for ‘sadqa’ near an ATR-42 aircraft after it was given clearance for take-off from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Sunday.

Later the plane left for Multan, making it the first ATR-42 aircraft to be pressed into service since the start of shakedown tests on all such aircraft in the wake of an air crash near Havelian on Dec 7.

According to a spokesman for the national flag carrier, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had decided to ground the ATR-42 fleet until all its aircraft had been subjected to the shakedown tests and cleared for flight operations.

The grounding of the ATR fleet had badly affected the PIA’s flights to and from cities and towns like Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Moenjodaro, Zhob, Bahawalpur, D.G. Khan, Chitral and Gilgit.

The people wishing to board flights in these cities and towns had been advised to check status of their flights from the PIA Call Centre, at 111-786-786, before leaving for the airports.

The process for carrying out the shakedown tests of the ATR aircraft is still continuing, according to a source.

The CAA staff and personnel of the PIA’s quality control department are taking part in the process under which each of the aircraft will be examined thoroughly.

According to the PIA spokesman, an aircraft will remain grounded until it is examined properly.

He said that after it was cleared for take-off, an ATR-42 aircraft (PK-681) left Islamabad for Multan at 6.40pm and returned to the capital on its scheduled time of 9.45pm.

Also on Sunday, the airline operated four flights of C-130 aircraft, obtained from the Pakistan Air Force, for Gilgit and Chitral from the Benazir Bhutto International airport.

Published in Dawn December 19th, 2016