Says officials should've reported the pilot if he wasn't listening
Retired senior pilot Adil bin Qamar, who has flown planes of different airlines including PIA, has raised questions on the Air Traffic Control tower’s attitude during the conversation with pilots of PIA flight PK-8303 that crashed in Karachi on May 22.
The plane crashed into the residential area of the Model Colony after it fell short of a minute in landing on the runway as both of its engines failed. As a result, 97 of the 99 people aboard were killed.
Qamar believes if the control tower personnel felt flight pilot Sajad Gul was not adhering to their calls then they should have reported him. “The ATC just lacked assertiveness. There was a [communication] gap,” Qamar said while speaking on SAMAA TV’s programme NewsBeat on Friday.
“Usually, the ATC keeps asking the pilot questions while there. The pilot suddenly landed and also initiated a go-around when the landing gear malfunctioned. What had happened in between [both landing attempts]?” the former pilot asked.
He said pilots are more comfortable being airborne whenever any problem comes up while landing.
Qamar feels pilot Sajad Gul might not have able to see everything below him and that’s where the control tower’s surveillance comes into play, but the latter seemed to have lost the pilot when it was required the most.
Anchor Ehtisham Amiruddin and Qamar also pointed out the altitude the plane was maintaining before it almost nose-dived.
According to the standard operating procedure for aircraft flying, a passenger plane must fly at a height of 1,500 feet above the ground at a speed of five nautical miles. However, PK-8303 was varying its altitude from 3,000 to 3,500 feet.
PIA Spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan feels the scrutiny into the crash is too early. He was of the view that the crash was so far being analysed on the basis of a two to three-minute long audio clip that was taken from the cockpit’s voice recorder.
“We are yet to get access to 20 to 22 minutes of information and what went on during both landings,” said Khan. He added that conclusions can only be drawn once the cause is ascertained.
The airline spokesperson however agreed with Qamar’s point that the control tower should have been assertive.
An 11-member team of experts from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus are in Karachi to help the PIA assist into the crash’s investigation. They have been examining the accident site in Model Colony.
They are investigating why the aircraft’s landing gear didn’t open on time and will review the condition of the plane’s engine, flight control system, and wings. The experts even took pictures and made videos of the houses destroyed in the crash.
The plane’s black box and flight data record will be handed over to the Airbus team and they will take it to France with them.