Safety body blames PIA, CAA for 2016 air crash

Published January 12, 2019
Rescue workers survey the site of a plane crashed near the village of Saddha Batolni.— Reuters/File
Rescue workers survey the site of a plane crashed near the village of Saddha Batolni.— Reuters/File

RAWALPINDI/KARACHI: The Safety Investigation Board (SIB) tasked with a probe into the 2016 crash of a domestic flight that killed all the 47 people on board, including singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed, has found a ‘lapse’ on the part of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and a ‘lack of oversight’ by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that may have led to the tragic incident.

On Dec 7, 2016, PIA aircraft ATR42-500 (PK-661) en route to Islamabad from Chitral had crashed into the mountains near Havelian tehsil of Abbottabad.

“The investigation is nearing a concluding stage, however, some important findings of technical nature require immediate attention/intervention,” said the one-page preliminary report of the SIB.

Asks national flag carrier to evaluate its oversight mechanism to discover lapses, ascertain shortfalls and undertake improvements

The SIB, an independent body that comes under the aviation division, has shared its report with the CAA and PIA.

PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar told Dawn that the SIB’s findings were not a full report on the air crash but initial recommendations. He said: “The SIB’s suggestions will be followed and a reply will be submitted by the airlines.”

The SIB report said that the sequence of events began with dislodging of one blade of power turbine stage-1, inside engine-1 (left side engine), due to fatigue. This dislodging of one blade resulted in an in-flight engine shutdown and it contributed towards erratic/ abnormal behaviour of No 1 propeller.

According to the service bulletin, these turbine blades were to be changed after completion of 10,000 hours (of use) on next immediate maintenance opportunity. The said engine was under maintenance on Nov 11, 2016 and at that time these blades had completed 10,004.1 hours (of use) and were due for a change. This activity should have been undertaken at that time, but it was missed out by those concerned, the SIB report said.

According to it, the aircraft flew approximately 93 hours after the said maintenance activity before it crashed.

“Missing out of such an activity highlights a lapse on the part of PIAC (maintenance and quality assurance) and a possible inadequacy/lack of oversight by the CAA,” it said.

“The PIAC should ensure immediate implementation of the service bulletin in letter and spirit on the entire fleet of ATR aircraft, undertake an audit of the related areas of maintenance practices, ascertain root causes for the said lapse, and adopt appropriate corrective measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents,” the SIB recommended.

It suggested that the PIA should evaluate its oversight mechanism for its adequacy to discover lapses and intervene in a proactive manner, ascertain shortfall and undertake necessary improvements.

A senior official of the CAA said that the authority would give its view on the SIB report in a few days after reviewing it.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019

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