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Pakistan air crash probe: ‘Pilots not focused… discussing coronavirus throughout’

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said initial investigation has found the pilots and the air traffic control (ATC) officials to be at fault as they failed to follow set procedures.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 24, 2020 7:40:34 pm
karachi flight crash, karachi plane crash news, Karachi plane crash reason, PIA plane crash, pakistan pilots coronavirus, covid-19 pakistan, pakistan news Karachi: Volunteers look for survivors of a plane that crashed in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. (AP)

The pilots of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane that crashed last month in Karachi, killing 97 on board, were not focused and were “discussing coronavirus” throughout the flight, an initial investigation has found.

The country’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told Parliament Wednesday that the initial investigation has found that the pilots and the air traffic control (ATC) officials to be at fault as they failed to follow set procedures that led to the crash.

“The pilot ignored the instructions of the air traffic controllers and the ATC, on the other hand, did not inform the pilot about the engine colliding,” Khan was quoted saying by news agency PTI.

“The pilots were discussing corona throughout the flight. They were not focused. They talked about corona […] their families were affected. When the control tower asked him to increase the plane’s height, the pilot said ‘I’ll manage’. There was overconfidence,” he added.

The domestic flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed in a residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on May 22.

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The Airbus A320 aircraft of the national carrier had 91 passengers and a crew of eight when it crashed into the Jinnah Garden area near a residential colony, minutes before its landing. One girl also died on the ground after suffering burn injuries. Two passengers miraculously survived the crash.

Read | Pak plane ‘jolted’ thrice before crash: Survivor

According to Khan, there was no mechanical or technical fault in the plane and both the pilots were medically fit to fly.

He also said the aircraft touched the runway thrice without the landing gear which caused damage to its engines. “When the plane took off again, both its engines had been damaged,” he said.

‘40% PIA pilots have fake licences’

Khan also told the parliament that nearly 40 per cent of pilots working with PIA have fake licences. He said these pilots had not given the examination themselves nor did they have any proper flying experience, he added.

“Pilots are also appointed on a political basis, unfortunately,” he said. “Whilst appointing pilots, merit is ignored,” he added, disclosing that degrees of four PIA pilots had been found out to be fake.

Sarwar also said the government will take action against PIA pilots who were found guilty of the above offences, adding the government will “restructure” the airlines.

(Inputs from PTI)

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