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Zardari directs PIA to probe emergency landings

November 20, 2012

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday directed the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Civil Aviation Authority to conduct a thorough inquiry into frequent incidents of emergency landings of flights and submit a comprehensive report within three days.

Taking strong notice of the recent reports about various emergency landings by the PIA flights, the president also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that no such incident takes place in future.

President Zardari's directions come after a London-bound PIA  airplane was forced to perform an emergency landing at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport on Sunday when the aircraft's engine was reported by eyewitnesses to have caught fire. However, PIA and CAA official claimed one of the aircraft's engines had malfunctioned, denying eyewitness and media reports of the engine catching fire.

Spokesperson to the President, Senator Farhatullah Babar said on Tuesday that the president expressed his deep concern and dismay over the recurring reports of emergency landings of the PIA's aircraft mostly due to 'technical reasons'.

The president said that the first and the foremost responsibility of the managers of any airline was to ensure that the fleet was in a perfect condition for the sake of ensuring the safety of passengers.

He said that the human lives were too precious to take any risk or to overlook any dereliction of duty on the part of some people.

The spokesperson said that on Sunday, a London-bound PIA airplane developed 'technical fault' forcing it to perform an emergency landing at Karachi Airport.

Similarly, he said in September a Hajj flight with 187 passengers on board made an emergency landing at Karachi Airport after its hydraulic system developed a fault.

He said it was also reported that PIA's Islamabad-Karachi bound flight PK369 in September made an emergency landing at Lahore Airport.

The spokesperson said that besides calling for a detailed report, the president also called for a meeting to get a comprehensive briefing on the issue.

Pakistan’s airline industry has been tarnished by a string of tragic accidents in recent years.

In April this year, all 127 on board Bhoja Air’s Boeing 737-200 lost their lives when the flight flew from Karachi airport but crashed five kilometers from Islamabad.

Earlier in July, 2010, an Airblue jetliner crashed into Islamabad’s Margalla hills, killing all 146 passengers and six crew members on board.