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Pakistan grounds ATR planes after one crashes, another reports technical issues

world Updated: Dec 12, 2016 14:38 IST
ATR planes

Pakistani investigators examine the wreckage of a passenger plane which crashed in the village of Gugh.(AP file photo)

Pakistan’s national carrier Monday grounded its 10 ATR turboprop planes after a crash last week killed 47 people and a second aircraft reported technical issues shortly before it was supposed to take off overnight.

Pakistan International Airlines flight 661 smashed into a hillside in the country’s north while travelling from the city of Chitral to the capital Islamabad last Wednesday. The airline has said one of the plane’s two turboprop engines failed.

Read: Pakistan mourns 47 killed in plane crash, DNA tests to identify victims

Another PIA ATR faced “technical issues” late Sunday just before it was set to take off from the central city of Multan on a flight to southern Karachi and was called back to its parking bay, though the airline denied media reports that one of the engines caught fire.

The fleet will now undergo thorough testing after the two incidents, the airline said.

“In view of civil aviation authority’s decision of holding shakedown tests of PIA’s entire ATR fleet, it has been decided to keep all 10 ATR aircraft grounded till they are cleared after thorough examination,” PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said in a statement.

ATR is a Toulouse, France-based turboprop aircraft maker and “the world leader in the market for regional aircraft up to 90 seats”, according to the company’s website.

The company was established in 1981 and is a partnership between two European aeronautics firms, the Airbus Group and Leonardo.

Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines Azam Saigol (C) along with officials offers funeral prayers for plane crash victims in Islamabad on December 8. (AFP file photo)

Its ATR 42-500 is a twin turboprop plane that carries 48 passengers in standard configuration and is capable of operations on both paved and unpaved strips. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a division of the US manufacturer.

ATR has so far declined to comment while Pakistani authorities investigate the causes of the crash.