Pak authorities retrieve landing gear, part of cockpit of crashed PIA plane
Pakistani authorities on Tuesday retrieved the landing gear and parts of the cockpit of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft that crashed in a residential area in Karachi last month.
The PIA plane, with 99 people on board, crashed in Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport Karachi on May 22, killing 97 people (89 passengers and eight crew members). Two passengers miraculously survived.
“We have retrieved the landing and parts of the cockpit from the crash site and transferred it to the airport,” a PIA official told PTI.
He said the plane’s engine will be retrieved by Wednesday.
He said the team, comprising Air Force, Civil Aviation Authority, the PIA and Karachi Port Trust officials, used a crane weighing 70 tonnes to retrieve the remaining parts of the crashed plane. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) of the Airbus A-320 have already been retrieved from the crash site and sent to France to download the data.
The French Air Safety Organisation has successfully downloaded the data and sent its report to the Pakistan government. The government will make a preliminary report about the crash public on June 22.
The four-member investigation team’s main focus so far has been on the first failed landing and go-around (re-take off) of the ill-fated PK-8303 flight.
Some retired and serving pilots have raised eyebrows about the role of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following the publication of the communication between the pilot of the plane and the air traffic controller.
“The four-member team of investigators headed by Air Commodore Usman Ghani has recorded the statements of the air traffic controllers concerned and the runway inspection team. The controllers in question have been stopped from working until the fixing of responsibility for the crash.
So far the investigators have collected evidence -- runway pictures, aircraft parts, records of communication between controllers and pilot, recording by the radar, and other related materials. The investigators are mandated to spot and fix responsibility for violations in the aviation procedures and suggest a remedy to avoid a repeat.
According to a former air traffic controller, the aircraft was kept with ‘approach controllers’ all the time as per the procedure.
“The pilot did not call tower frequency at any time during the flight and was in contact with the ATC till he crashed. The role of co-pilot will come to fore through the material stored in the voice recorder.” The controller says the pilot did not report any emergency after he tried to land the first time. He was told that at 3,500ft he was a bit high on approach so he may descend to 2,000ft or so in a circle, but he said he was comfortable and continued straight on.
“Once the pilot realised that he could not make a proper landing, he went around from a very low height, more than scraping the runway and in the process, the engines were damaged,” he said.
“ATC gave him clearance to come back and land on any runway and stopped all traffic for him. The plane had already damaged its engines, and it crashed a mile short of the runway,” he added.