Bilawal rejects govt's report into PIA plane crash

Dunya News

Bilawal demands an an independent investigation into PIA plane crash.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday while rejecting the government’s report into Pakistan International Airline’s plane crash in Karachi and demanded an independent probe into the issue.

The PPP chairman took to the microblogging website twitter and said that Prime Minister Imran Khan used to say that railway minister should be sacked if there’s train crash and if there’s a plane crash aviation minister should be sacked.

He said that the prime minister now blames the pilot and air traffic control for plane crash.

Bilawal went on to say that the process of making scapegoats by blaming the victims of the accident should be stopped.

“We want an independent investigation into PIA plane crash,” he added.

Earlier today, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Wednesday said that the pilots of a PIA airliner that crashed last month, killing 97, were distracted and preoccupied as they talked about the coronavirus pandemic while preparing for an initial failed landing bid.

The Airbus A320 of national carrier Pakistan International Airlines crashed on May 22 in the southern city of Karachi, killing all but two of those aboard as it came down a kilometre (0.6 mile) short of the runway on its second attempt.

The aircraft had landed on its engines on the first attempt, before taking off again, the minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, told parliament as he presented an initial report on the disaster.

The flight data recorder showed the landing gear was lowered at 10 nautical miles, Khan said, but then raised again 5 nautical miles from the runway, which he described as "beyond comprehension".

The aircraft was "100 percent fit to fly" and there was no technical fault, he said, but added that the pilots were not "focused" because of the pandemic.

"The discussion throughout was about corona," Khan said, referring to exchanges between the pilot and co-pilot he said he had listened to on the cockpit voice recorder.

"Corona was dominant over their mind. Their family was affected (by the virus)." The report did not spell out the pilots  conversation on the virus, but said they did not follow set protocols.

"Several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts, were disregarded," it added. "The landing was undertaken with landing gear retracted. The aircraft touched the runway surface on its engines."

Both the pilots and officials at air traffic control did not follow set procedures, Khan said. "The captain and the co-pilot were experienced and medically fit," the minister said.

Khan added that the data showed flight PK8303 from the eastern city of Lahore was at an altitude of just 7,220 feet (2,200 m) when 10 miles (16 km) from the runway, although it should have been at 2,500 feet (762 m).

Air traffic control drew the pilot s attention to the irregularity, and advised against landing, instead urging a go-around, Khan said. He said the inquiry report revealed the pilot had mentioned no technical fault during the final approach. "The last words from the pilot were,  Oh God, oh God, oh God, " Khan added.