ISLAMABAD: The transcript analysis of the black box of PK-661 — the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight that crashed near Havelian while travelling from Chitral to Islamabad on Dec 7 — has failed to find the real cause of the crash.
This was disclosed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedures and Privileges on Thursday.
All 47 people on board were killed in the crash. It took almost two weeks to complete the process of DNA tests and handing over the bodies to families.
Both engines of aircraft were ‘100 per cent’ fine when it took off from Chitral, Senate body told
CAA Secretary Irfan Elahi, while sharing the findings with the committee, said both engines of the aircraft were running “100 per cent” fine when the plane took off from Chitral. One of the engines was working properly even when the plane crashed.
“The black box data indicates that no effort was made to land the aircraft before the crash. So investigations are still going on to determine why the plane crashed despite the fact that one of its engines was properly working,” he said.
The CAA secretary told the meeting presided over by National Party legislator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini that the first call to the control room had been made at 4.12pm and the pilot’s voice seemed ‘calm’.
“Only after two minutes at 4.14pm, the pilot issued a Mayday call, saying one of the engines had stopped working. Just three minutes after that at 4.17pm, the plane changed its route and went towards east instead of going towards south, which was its path. At that point the control room tried to get in touch with the pilot and the last communication with the pilot was recorded at 4.17pm,” he said.
Mr Elahi said that 10 to 15 minutes later it was confirmed that the plane had crashed. He claimed that the black box data was 100pc unaltered and the investigation was conducted independently, without any involvement of the PIA and the CAA.
Claiming that the plane was quite safe, he said the prime minister had travelled to Gwadar on the same aircraft one week before the crash.
It is worth mentioning here that the initial report of the crash prepared by the CAA had reportedly suggested that the ill-fated aircraft had been flying smoothly at 13,375 feet when its left engine malfunctioned, exploded and damaged a wing bringing down the plane in the mountainous area near Abbottabad. The aircraft had flown 18,740 hours before its crash. The weather conditions in the area at the time of the crash were normal, according to the report.
Besides this, the pilot of the aircraft had extensive experience of flying in northern areas. The report said that ATRs could glide even if both engines were switched off or had malfunctioned. However, an aircraft will fall freely if there is structural damage as hampered aerodynamics does not allow it to glide with gradual descent. There is a possibility then that the failed engine had exploded and damaged the wing attached to it.
According to the report, ATR 42-500 is one of the most recent versions of the aircraft. Its first delivery was made in 1995 while the plane in question was delivered to the PIA on May 14, 2007. The aircraft had one instance of an engine failure in 2014. The engine was replaced and since then, it had been operating smoothly.
A team of foreign experts from the ATR manufactures had also visited the crash site to help the probe team working to ascertain the cause of the deadly incident.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2017