Pilot, ATC negligence led PK 8303 crash: AM Sarwar

By Zeeshan Ghayur
Thursday – June 25, 2020
ISLAMABAD: In the national assembly (NA) aviation minister (AM) Ghulam Sarwar, hailing from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), detailing the preliminary report on PK 8303, Wednesday, held the pilot along-with air traffic control (ATC) responsible for May 22 crash, which martyred 97 passengers along-with Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) 8 cabin/cockpit crew.

He lamented, “As per the preliminary report the pilot on final approach did not point out any technical fault, the plane was supposed to be at 2,500 feet in air when it was 10 nautical miles away from the landing strip whereas the crashed plane was at 7,220 feet in air” crying “This was the first irregularity.”

AM Sarwar grieved, “The ATC reminded the pilot three times that his plane’s height is still very high and that the plane must avoid the landing approach and instead go around, despite this the pilot neglected the ATC instructions” sorrowing “It is on record that the landing gear were open (down) when the plane was 10 nautical miles away from the landing strip, however when the plane was five nautical miles from the landing strip the landing gear were up (retracted).”

He regretted, “A plane can perform a landing approach when it is 1,500 to 3,000 feet in the air, the length of a runway/landing strip is around 11,000 feet, but the plane without open (down) landing gear performs a landing and touches the landing strip with its engines, bounces off three times during which it scratches up to 3,000 to 4,000 feet on the runway.”

AM Sarwar cried, “Despite the immense ground friction which damaged the engines to a larger extent, the pilot pulls up the plane in the air and managed a take off” lashing “ATC is negligent of not informing the pilot that it had witnessed engines in extreme friction with the runway” adding “Now that the plane was in the air, both the engines were damaged.”

He continued, “The pilot again requested permission for the landing approach but unfortunately the height and approach that the pilot was assigned the already damaged plane could not attain any and unfortunately crash landed on a residential area” wailing “All those who got martyred lost their lives during the crash when the plane caught fire.”

AM Sarwar deplored, “I heard the ending half an hour of cockpit conversation in which the last words uttered three times by the pilot were, Ya Allah, while the rest of the conversation was on and about the coronavirus (COVID-19)” lashing “The pilot along with the copilot were not focused on the flight manoeuvres.”

He recalled, “When the plane approached the runway for the first time, ATC warned against landing since the height of the plane was too much but the pilot neglected the warning and responded that he will manage and again begun talking about coronavirus” flaying “The plane was set to auto landing from which the over confident pilot disengaged it, it was to descend on 30 degrees but the pilot decided to dive at 60 degrees and unfortunately the incident happened.”

AM Sarwar said, “Both the pilot and co-pilot were well experienced and were medically fit for flying.”

He noted, “As per the preliminary report, both the pilot and the ATC did not follow the regular way of conduct, on one end the pilot neglected instructions of ATC whereas at the other end ATC failed to inform the pilot of engine damage once the immense friction was sighted.”

AM Sarwar continued, “The sad incident occurred on Friday - Juma-tul-wida - the PIA plane flew from Lahore at 1:15pm and crashed landed near Karachi airport at 2:45pm, in which 99 passengers were on board” adding “Two passengers surprisingly survived, recovered in hospital and went back home.”

He detailed, “We formulated an inquiry board the night of crash which comprised three senior most airforce and one civil aviation officers, who began the inquiry the same night in Karachi whereat the wreckage was examined.”

AM Sarwar disclosed, “90 martyrs have been compensated with one million rupees each, which is not enough” adding “Among the compensated are also a lady who got martyred as a result of the plane razing her home while two more ladies received severe injuries.”

He revealed, “The crashed plane was insured with an international insurance firm, the 29 houses that sustained damages as a result of the plane crash will be in time compensated and for the time being the residents are being looked after by the Sindh governor and the civil aviation authority (CAA).”

AM Sarwar described, “Later the inquiry commission was enlarged by bringing in two senior most pilots from Air Blue who flew A320 planes, the government of Pakistan (GoP) in addition wrote a letter to international pilot association to send over for investigation purposes a senior most A320 pilot along-with a technician.”

He recounted, “On May 26, a french inquiry team of 10 comprising of Airbus, engine manufacturer, French government officials along-with an American hailing from an international firm begun investigating the wreckage in association with four of our men.”

AM Sarwar said, “The digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was retrieved which records all the actions taken place within an aircraft, such as extending down of the landing gear, retracting of landing gear, increasing/decreasing the throttle, the timings of every operation.”

He continued, “The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was retrieved which records entire conversation of pilots, whether they are conversing with each other or with the ATC or with the ground staff, from the time the plane engines are switched on, till the last moment when the engine is either switched off or that the engine gets destroyed.”

AM Sarwar narrated, “Our investigating team’s chief took both the retrieved equipments, the DFDR and the CVR, to Paris on June 1 which were decoded in the presence of 10 foreign investigators along-with the representatives of engine manufacturer and European Union (EU) representatives on June 2, the voice recordings were also heard and brought in black and white” promising “This will also be a part of the final report which will remain public.”

He sorrowed, “The crashed plane was 100 percent fit for air travel, there was absolutely no technical fault, with the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19) flights were suspended and once the flight operations were resumed the plane took its first flight on May 7 and completed 6 successful flights, five flights were between Lahore and Karachi while one flight was to Sharjah and back but crashed on May 22.”

He reminded, “The chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) had taken a suo moto action in which orders were issued to check the degrees of PIA employees” adding “Now among the employees were the administration, ground handlers, pilots, mechanics/technicians and of them four pilots had fake degrees.”

AM Sarwar lamented, “Pakistan has a total of 860 active pilots of which 262 pilots did not give license examinations themselves and instead someone else in their place gave examinations, they lack the required flying experience” sorrowing “Out of 54, show cause notices have been served to 28 people, they went to the court however proceedings against them have begun, 18 people after having served with show cause notices were brought in personal hearings while 9 pilots confessed that they committed the mistake.”

He said, “I met the two surviving passengers of whom I will quote one, which is based on facts, when his chair with seat belt fastened fell off the plane onto the third storey of a residential building it got bounced off to the second storey and again bounced off to the first storey but he kept sitting straight on his chair whereat he was later rescued” adding “He had received minor injuries and the time he was being rescued, he demanded that he be connected to his mother, he telephoned his mother to whom he narrated the entire story and mentioned to her that he is alive because of her prayers.”

AM Sarwar mentioned, “Unfortunately, in last 72 years there have been 12 plane crash incidents.”