PIA Plane Crash: Preliminary Report Raises Serious Questions

A report prepared by Pakistan’s CAA hints that the Airbus A-320’s engines had brushed the runway thrice.

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In this photo released by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, Provincial Governor Imran Ismail and Pakistan's Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar visit the site of Friday's plane crash, in Karachi, Pakistan on Saturday, 23 May.
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Days after the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed at a residential area in Karachi leaving at least 97 people dead, an investigation has begun to find out if the incident was "a pilot's error or technical glitch," Geo News reported.

Questions about why the pilot did not once inform the air traffic controllers of any emergency, malfunction and engine failure or fire despite visible problems have been raised in the preliminary report, according to Pakistan media.

The report prepared by Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hints that the Airbus A-320's engines had brushed the runway thrice as the pilot attempted to land. This caused friction and sparks.

The News International quoted CAA sources as saying that after the third impact, the pilot took the aircraft off into the air again which officials found very strange as the crew in the cockpit did not inform the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at the Jinnah International Airport of any problem with the landing gear.

According to the report, the pilot made first contact with the ground at around 4,400 feet, second at 5,500 and third at 7,000 feet. The belly of the plane did not touch the ground during all these three times.

Officials are not sure why the automated emergency warning systems inside the plane were ignored.

"The system gives both shrill alarms and at the same time warns in words and it is not possible for the pilots to ignore," says the report.

Experts are also exploring the possibility of damage and leak in oil tank and fuel pump. They says such a damage can deny the pilot to achieve the required thrust or speed, in turn, the altitude too.

According to ATC and CAA sources, it was only after the go-around that the pilot informed that the landing gear were not opening.

After the lift-off, he was also directed by the ATC to take the plane to 3,000 feet but he could only manage to achieve 18,00 feet.

Further, according to the report, all the systems inside the aircraft have automatic back ups and if one system fails another alternate takes over which does not seem to have happened.

"They (experts) also seem to question the rarity of multiple technical problems which seems to have afflicted the ill-fated plane," adds the report.

Arshad Malik, PIA chief executive officer said that the black box of the plane has been handed over to the investigation team which is expected to submit a full report in about three months.

After the plane crash on Friday, the PIA has called off domestic flight operation which were earlier allowed from five major airports amid COVID-19 pandamic.

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