ISLAMABAD, Feb 16: A combination of errors made by the ground staff and those made by the pilot resulted in the crash of Fokker flight PK-688, killing all those on board, an official investigation into the tragedy has concluded.
“A tragic coupling of factors led to the crash,” a senior Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official told Dawn on Friday.
The Lahore-bound Fokker F-27 crashed on July 10 minutes after taking off from Multan airport. The 41 passengers killed in one of the worst air crashes in the country’s history included two judges of the Lahore High Court, two brigadiers of the Pakistan Army and a vice-chancellor. Four crew members also perished.
An investigation was ordered into the crash which was supervised by the CAA. The report of the investigation has been submitted by the defence ministry to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who will decide whether or not to declassify it.
So far the authorities have been jealously guarding it. The National Assembly was on Thursday informed by the parliamentary secretary for defence, Tanveer Hussain Syed, that some of the report’s “contents” made its unveiling difficult.
According to one of the sources, the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft could not handle the emergency situation and turn it back towards Multan airport. This means that there may have been some flaws in his training.
Before the plane’s take-off mistakes were committed by the airline’s engineering department which overlooked faults in the aircraft’s mechanical and electrical systems. The right engine of the aircraft was said to have developed a fault while taxiing prior to take-off. The aircraft got airborne with one engine, but the pilot failed to maintain its balance.
However, the source kept mum over reports that the aircraft, after it had caught fire, could not be taken back to the airport because of faulty radars. Unfortunately, visibility was also very poor that day.
President of the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association, Capt Khalid Hamza, conceded that the crash occurred due to the pilot’s error. But he added that all possible reasons behind the crash should be explored in great detail.
Azfar-ul-Ashfaque adds from Karachi: The CAA has claimed that the crash was in no way connected to flight inspection or calibration of instruments at Multan airport.
On Thursday the parliamentary secretary for defence, Tanveer Syed, had told the National Assembly that some lapses had been detected in the calibration of instruments at Multan airport. Serious calibration faults had also been found at other airports, he claimed, adding that even a VIP aircraft could meet an accident in such a situation.
However, a CAA spokesman refuted this and said: “(The) CAA, as defined by the ICAO, is maintaining all navigational, communications, route, approach and visual aids on all its airports at an optimum.”