Court seeks final report of probe into 2016 ATR crash

Updated 28 Oct 2020


A photograph shows the site of the plane crash in 2016. — File
A photograph shows the site of the plane crash in 2016. — File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the chief of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board (AAIB) to come up on November 19 with the final investigation report of the 2016 ATR aircraft crash.

The SHC was informed that the investigation was completed, but the final concurrence of one of the three foreign accredited representatives was awaited and it was likely to be received by October 30.

When a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar took up the matter, AAIB President Air Commodore Usman Ghani along with an official of the aviation division appeared in court and filed a statement and progress report.

It was submitted that the investigation had been concluded, but for the public dissemination and formal release of the report the AAIB was obliged under the International Civil Aviation Organisation Convention and Civil Aviation Rules 1994 to have concurrence of the foreign accredited representatives who represent the respective states of manufacturer and design of aircraft/components.

SHC orders chief secretary to expedite fund release process for Children Hospital, New Karachi

The report stated that the concurrence of France, as aircraft manufacturer, and Canada, as engine manufacturer, had been received, but the final concurrence of the United States, as manufacturer of propeller and some related systems, was likely to be received by October 30 and thereafter the AAIB president would submit the complete report in court.

The AAIB chief informed the bench that they also used to upload such reports on the website of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The copies of the statement and progress report were provided to the petitioner, who sought time to go through the same.

The bench directed the AAIB president to submit the final investigation report on the next hearing.

The petition was filed after an Islamabad-bound flight of the national flag carrier crashed near Abbottabad upon taking off from Chitral on Dec 7, 2016 leaving 42 passengers and crew, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and his wife, dead.

Citing the Pakistan International Airline, CAA and others as respondents, the petitioner argued that there were various incidents where ATR planes were crashed and a large number of precious lives lost. He pleaded for a judicial inquiry to fix responsibility on the officials responsible, prosecute them and order compensation to the legal heirs of the victims.

On a previous hearing, the mother of First Officer Ahmed Mansoor Janjua, who was in the ill-fated plane, informed the bench that despite various attempts neither the CAA nor the PIA informed her about the fate of an inquiry into the ATR crash.

CS told to ensure funds for Children Hospital

The same bench on Tuesday directed the Sindh chief secretary to expedite the process of approval of a pending summary for grant of funds for the Sindh Government Children Hospital, New Karachi.

The bench observed that the hospital was not fully functional due to a lack of funds.

The additional health secretary submitted in court that funds were blocked due to some audit objections. However, the lawyer for the Poverty Eradication Initiative (PEI), an NGO running the hospital under the provincial government’s public-private partnership venture, argued that the audit objections had been cleared and the matter of fresh appointment of the auditor was pending since there were some interim orders not to terminate his agreement as the same was valid up to 2026.

The bench said that the main issue was release of funds to make the hospital fully functional and directed the health secretary to appear in court on the next hearing with a viable solution.

The additional health secretary further submitted that a summary was already pending for grant of some funds and expected to be cleared soon.

The lawyer for the PEI argued that around 100 doctors and staff had been working and drawing their salaries whereas 389 doctors and staff, appointed by PEI, were not being paid for the past seven months due to unavailability of funds.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2020