PIA plane crash report presented in NA; pilot, ATC held responsible

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ISLAMABAD (City News) – Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Wednesday has presented initial investigation report on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in the National Assembly (NA).

Speaking in the House, the minister blamed plane’s captain, crew members and the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) for the crash, while PIA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have also been declared responsible because of their inaccuracies in preventing such accidents.

CCTV footage showed that the ill-fated plane hit the runway after which, the pilot chose to go around (re-take off). Evidence of damages caused to both engines of the plane due to failed landing was also found, he told.

Ghulam Sarwar said that pilot neglected instruction given by ATC and opened landing gears of the plane at 10 nautical miles while they were turned off at 5 nautical miles. Airport administration had told that the aircraft was flying at high altitude at the time of landing. The controller didn’t give any guidance after the plane hit the runway, he went on to say.

He told that pilot and co-pilot were not focused and discussing coronavirus throughout their flight time. Action against the responsible people will be taken as per the law, he pledged.

The aviation minister said that according to report, the plane was fit for take-off and its landing gears were also working properly. The captain and first officer of the aircraft were well experienced and the weather at that time was also suitable for flying, he stated.

The inquiry report was prepared while keeping in view the investigation record, statements of staff and Airbus team’s report. Data flight recorders, cockpit voice recorders and flight records obtained from air traffic control are also part of the report, he continued.

Meanwhile, Ghulam Sarwar also presented reports on Gilgit crash landing, Air Blue crash and Bhoja Airline incidents, declaring inefficiency of pilots behind these mishaps, however, Chitral plan accident tookplace due to technical fault.

He told the House that action against the pilots holding fake degrees has been launched, adding that 262 pilots out of 860 have not passed their exams by their own while degrees of four were found fake.

Some points of Preliminary Findings

The investigation so far into the available evidences, ie FDR / CVR readouts (preliminary assessment), footages from CCTV / Security Cameras at JIAP, and “Karachi Approach” radar data etc, following has been revealed and validated as the few preliminary findings: –

A) On 22 May 2020 PIA flight PK8303 took off from AIIAP Lahore at 13:05 hrs (as per the Lahore ATC recording / transcript). Departure from Lahore and cruising flight were uneventful. The crew did not follow standard callouts and did not observe CRM aspects during most parts of flight.

B) “Area Control Karachi East” cleared PK8303 for “Nawabshah 2A” arrival procedure (STAR – Standard Terminal Arrival Route as published in AIP and JEPPESEN), and advised to expect ILS approach for runway 25L. The flight was later cleared at pilot’s discretion to report direct MAKLI (a waypoint 15 nautical miles at a radial of 075 from Karachi VOR) and descend to FL100, and later re-cleared for FL50.

The aircraft changed over to “Karachi Approach” and was cleared to descend down further to 3000 ft, by the time it reaches MAKLI.

C) “Karachi Approach” advised repeatedly (twice to discontinue the approach and once cautioned) about excessive height. Landing approach was not discontinued. However, FDR shows action of raising of the landing gears at 1740 ft followed by retraction of the speed brakes (at a distance slightly less than 05 nautical miles from the runway 25L). At this time, the aircraft had intercepted the localizer as well as the glide slope. Flaps 1 were selected at 243 knots IAS, the landing gears and speed brakes were retracted. Over-speed and EGPWS warnings were then triggered.

D) At 500 ft, the FDR indicates: landing gear retracted, slat/flap configuration 3, airspeed 220 knots IAS, descent rate 2000 ft/min. According to the FDR and CVR recordings several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts were disregarded. The landing was undertaken with landing gears retracted. The aircraft touched the runway surface on its engines. Flight crew applied reverse engine power and initiated a braking action. Both engines scrubbed the runway at various locations causing damage to both of them. Figures hereunder show selected screenshots of security / CCTV cameras footages of the aircraft engines touching the runway and showing sparks due to scrubbing, along with marks on the runway.

E) The “Aerodrome Control” observed the scrubbing of engines with the runway but did not covey this abnormality to the aircraft. It was conveyed to the “Karachi Approach” on telephone. Subsequently “Karachi Approach” also did not relay this abnormality to the aircraft.

F) The landing was discontinued and a go-around was executed. FDR recording indicates a brief action of selection of landing gear lever to down position, which was immediately followed by its movement to up position. Intention to undertake another ILS approach for landing on runway 25L was conveyed, however shortly after the go-around both engines failed one by one. Ram Air Turbine (RAT) was deployed to power the essential systems. FDR data recording stopped during this timeframe (as per the designed limitation). The aircraft was unable to maintain required height. The aircrew declared the emergency situation that both engines were lost, and transmitted a “Mayday Call”. Evidences from the wreckage indicate reasons for right engine failure, however left engine requires further examination, and landing gear in extended position did not demonstrate any malfunction of the landing gear system.

G) The aircraft crashed about 1340 meters short from runway 25L. It was a slow speed impact with high angle of attack, with aircraft configuration indicating landing gears extended, slats at step / position 1, and flaps retracted. The said configuration was ascertained and documented from the wreckage at the crash site (as the FDR data recording had stopped earlier).

PIA plane crashes in Karachi

It is pertinent to mention here that all but two of the 99 people on board a PIA passenger plane were killed when it crashed into a residential neighborhood of Karachi.

The PIA plane had made multiple approaches to land at Karachi airport when it came down among houses.

The national carrier’s flight PK-8303 took off from Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport and crashed in Model Colony area in Malir, approximately 4 kilometers away from the airport.

The plane came to rest about 2:39pm in a narrow alley in the poor and congested residential area known as Model Colony between houses smashed by its wings.

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