Crashed Airbus last checked on March 21, returned from Muscat a day ago

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

The engineering and maintenance department of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday released a brief on the technical history of the Airbus A-320 that crashed into a residential area near Karachi airport a day ago, killing 97 people on board.

Two passengers survived the crash and are receiving treatment at hospitals.

According to the summary, the last check of the plane was done on March 21 this year and it had flown from Muscat to Lahore a day before the crash.

The report added that there was "no defect related to the engine, landing gear or major aircraft system".

The summary further said the health of both engines was "satisfactory" and maintenance checks were being performed at intervals.

The report also revealed that the aeroplane was declared fit for flights till Nov 5, 2020 by the CAA.

Sources said the first certificate of airworthiness was issued to Airbus A320-200 on Nov 6, 2014 to Nov 5, 2015. And after every year the airworthiness certificate was issued following a complete check of the plane.

Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturer Airbus in a statement said the aircraft in question had logged around 47,100 flight hours and 25,860 flight cycles and was powered by CFM56-5B4/P engines.

The company said it is providing full technical assistance to Pakistani authorities in charge of the investigation.

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of the crash, a PIA spokesman said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

“The black box had been found late yesterday; we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said, clarifying that both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found.

Probe body formed

The federal government on Friday constituted an investigation team to probe the crash.

The investigation team would be headed by Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani, President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board.

He will be assisted by Wing Commander Malik Muhammad Imran, Additional Director of Technical Investigation; Group Captain Touqeer, Ops Investigator, Pakistan Air Force Safety Board, Kamra; and Nasir Majeed, Joint Director of ATC Ops, AAIB.

According to a notification issued by the Aviation Division, the investigation team would exercise powers conferred under CAA Rules, 1994, and submit its report to the division within the shortest possible time. However, a preliminary statement would be issued within a month from the date of the notification.

Earlier, the Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (Palpa) had demanded a thorough investigation into the aircraft crash by involving the association and international bodies.

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.

“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 added.

'Pilots and cabin crew well-qualified'

In a press conference on Friday night, PIA Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik said that the pilots and cabin crew aboard PK8303 were all qualified.

"Accidents happen, but our pilots are trained for these kind of events. These planes have checks and balances that we are required to fulfill.

"My pilots were qualified, their checks and balances, and medical tests were complete. My cabin crew was also qualified and my plane's inspection was also complete."

According to Radio Pakistan, Malik also said that the plane was "technically fit for flying", adding that an aircraft is given clearance for flying after ensuring all technical requirements are fulfilled.

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He said that an inquiry would be conducted into the plane crash by the Safety Investigation Board. "This is my responsibility and it is your right that you receive this information."

'Pilot tried to land twice'

“It tried to land twice but its wheels were not coming out. And its belly touched the runway before the pilot pulled it up again.

"The second time he did that, I saw one of its engines was on fire because it had brushed the runway. It didn’t return a third time but crashed here,” said Ijaz Masih, who witnessed the crash.

He was accompanying the PIA Emergency Response Unit in Model Colony where the plane crashed eventually on top of some residential buildings, injuring several inhabitants. “I still remember the plane’s individual number painted on its side ‘BLD’,” he added.

Read: Eyewitness says pilot tried to land twice before crash

“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” another witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, just a few kilometres short of the airport, according to Reuters.

Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash within the congested residential area. Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene to help residents. Eyewitnesses told DawnNewsTV that the plane was on fire in the air before crashing.

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