By Shokat Korai
A staff member of Karachi airport has claimed that the ill-fated PIA flight tried to land twice but failed.
Ijaz Masih, who works as a flight cleaner at the Karachi Airport told Voicepk.net that the plane failed in trying to land even though it had tried twice mainly because its landing gear was not working.
“We (airport staff) were waiting for this plane to land but its landing gear was malfunctioning,” he said. “The plane’s belly touched the runway twice and got damaged. The control tower then asked the plane to do an aerial round and tried to open the landing gear but the plane engine caught fire and it crashed on the residential area a few kilometers away from the runway.”
Some other residents of the area also corroborate the account of Masih and say that one of the engines was in flames and the plane hit the mobile tower first before going down.
Meanwhile the PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik spoke in a press conference and clarified that the pilots and the cabin crew of the plane were all qualified personnel.
Malik said that the plane was “technically fit for flying” and it was given clearance after fulfilling all technical requirements. He assured that a probe of international standards would be done soon by independent investigators to ascertain the reason for the accident.
The probe body constituted by the government would be led by the President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board, Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani.
Other members of the team include Additional Director of Technical Investigation, Wing Commander Malik Muhammad Imran, Additional Director of Technical Investigation, Ops Investigator, Pakistan Air Force Safety Board, Group Captain Touqeer, and Joint Director of ATC Ops, AAIB, Nasir Majeed.
The body will exercise its power given under CAA Rules, 1994, and submit its finding as early as possible.
But the grief among the bereaved family as well as the eye witnesses is unbound. A relative of the deceased passenger told Voicepk.net that he will request the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the crash and an FIR should be lodged against the CEO of PIA because he was endangering people’s lives by operating unfit aircraft.
THE LAST CONVERSATION
In a last conversation with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, the pilot of the plane Captain Sajjad Gul is telling the tower that he will be landing on the runway, after which the ATC gives him a go-ahead for the landing.
After a few seconds the pilot informs the ATC that the plane has lost both the engines. The ATC inquires whether the pilot would want to do a belly landing. After a few seconds, the ATC again informs the pilot that the runway is clear for landing. But the very next moment the pilot gives a “Mayday” or distress call to the ATC and the connection is lost.
The ill-fated flight PK8303 was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members. Authorities have confirmed that 97 people have lost their lives in the incident, while two passengers Zubair and Zafar Masud miraculously survived the tragedy. Both of them are out of danger and are being treated in hospitals.
At least 10 homes and a few vehicles were also damaged on the crash site but fortunately no residents of the area were killed in the incident.
Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan has announced a one million Rupee compensation for the families of those who were killed in the crash, while survivors of the crash are to receive Rs 500,000.
The Minister also announced that the government will be surveying the area and compensating for damages.