Pilots’ body demands probe into Karchi plane crash

Published May 23, 2020
Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22. — AFP
Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22. — AFP

KARACHI: The Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (Palpa) has demanded a thorough investigation into the PIA aircraft crash by involving the association and international bodies.

However, Palpa made it clear that pilots would continue to operate rescue flights.

It also suggested that in addition to the technical investigation into the aircraft’s health prior to the flight, investigators must consider the working conditions of the ground staff and flight crew.

It called for involving bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations in the investigation. “We will not accept the way the investigation carried out in the past and will not accept any inquiry into this accident without the inclusion of Palpa,” Captain Imran Narejo, the association’s general secretary, said.

“These are the unfortunate incidents which Palpa strives to avoid by following internationally acknowledged air safety rules to make Pakistani airspace safest for flying. Unfor­tunately, Palpa has always faced criticism for demanding safety procedures and highest technical upkeep of aircraft and following international safety rules and regulations. Very recently Palpa was a target of hate campaigns by vested interests just because it wanted to follow stringent safety rules and regulations,” Mr Narejo added.

“We appeal to the PIA management and the government to immediately order an inquiry into the incident and make its report available as soon as possible,” he said.

Expressing serious reservations over the abilities and past role of the Special Investigation Board (SIB), Palpa said to date no complete report of this board had been received. “We also suggest that after this incident, a competent board other than SIB should be formed,” he added.

Palpa was referring to a “preliminary” report of the SIB probe into the 2016 crash of a PIA domestic flight that killed all the 47 people on board, including singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed. The report in which it claimed to have found a “lapse” on the part of the PIA and a “lack of oversight” by the Civil Aviation Authority was widely reported by the media in 2019, but it was still not officially released and there’s no word whether it was officially concluded or not.

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

In a late-night press conference in Karachi, PIA chief executive Air Marshal Arshad Malik said the aviation ministry would oversee an inquiry into the incident. “We want the inquiry report to be completed as soon as possible but we cannot say when. We do not wish to interfere with the inquiry in any way,” he added.

He said the SIB was an independent government body that would oversee the investigation.

About relief activities relating to passengers’ families, he said they were welcome to come and stay at airport hotels which had been vacated. “All affected persons are going to be accommodated in airport hotels and other government facilities in Qasr-i-Naz,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2020

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