ISLAMABAD: The government has ordered a comprehensive inspection of all aircraft of private airlines to avert any possibility of crashes.
However, flight operations of all the airlines will continue after inspection of their aircraft, one by one, by experts of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar ordered what he called ‘shake-down inspection’ of all aircraft being operated by the private airlines.
“Technical checking of the aircraft of all private airlines will help ensure safe journey for passengers,” he said.
He did not announce any suspension of the flight operation of private airlines and said they would be allowed to operate as usual.
The defence minister said the planes found to be faulty would be grounded.
Pakistan International Airline adopted the same procedure of getting technical clearance from the department concerned.
CAA spokesman Pervez George told Dawn the minister had issued the instructions in view of the Bhoja Air crash in Islamabad that claimed the lives of all the 127 people onboard on Friday.
The shake-down inspection was explained by the spokesman as a major inspection of the aircraft, one-by-one, and said the entire fleet would be checked.
The spokesman said the inspection would begin on Monday and private airlines would have to reschedule their flight programmes.
He said the major inspection would be in addition to the general checking and inspection of the aircraft of private airlines.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave a political colour to the Bhoja Air incident and said the airline had got the licence to operate at a time when the Pakistan Muslim League-N was in power.
Talking to reporters, he said the names of all the individuals involved in the crash had been put on the exit control list.
“Names of six people who own Bhoja airline have been put on the ECL and a message has been sent to one of the partners, Jalil, and his wife to return to the country,” he said.
A joint team of the Federal Investigation Agency and police is investigating the crash.
“Farooq Bhoja, the supposed owner of Bhoja Air, holds only five per cent shares of the airline, while the rest of shares are owned by other stakeholders,” the minister said. Mr Bhoja was interrogated on Saturday.
Mr Malik said the investigation would determine who had given permission for an old aircraft to fly.
He said a judicial commission would investigate the incident from every angle and the voice data recorder would provide important information.
“Cases will be registered against those who took away jewellery of dead women and stole other stuff from the scene of the crash,” he said.
The airline was first permitted to operate flights in 1992, he said, adding that the government would take action after the completion of the inquiry by the judicial commission.
FIRE & SAFETY ASSOCIATION: The Fire and Safety Association of Pakistan held an emergency meeting and expressed concern over some flaws in the rescue operation.
According to a press release, the non-availability of helicopters or of the air rescue wing was noticed as ground operations were made difficult by the adverse weather.
“It is beyond imagination that there was no air support available on scene,” Anwar Ghore, CAA fire and rescue chief at the Benazir International Airport, said.
“We cannot exonerate ourselves from responsibilities to ensure that all air operations and flights are conducted safely at all times by simply blaming the ‘adverse weather conditions’. There may be more than one reason for this tragic incident and we, all the executives, directors and members of FSAP, demand for a professional, fair and fast investigation into the incident and that the detailed outcome of the investigation and recommendations be made public,” the press release said.