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Pictures of the Day: PIA plane crash

Posted on July 10, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Photo of the Day
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Adil Najam

Adil Najam

A PIA Fokker plane crashed in Pakistan today killing all 45 people on board. According to a CNN report:

Eye witnesses said the 27-year-old plane spiraled in the air as it plummeted to the ground on the outskirts of Multan, about three kilometers (two miles) from the city’s airport, two or three minutes after take-off from the eastern city of Lahore. “There was a huge explosion after the plane hit the ground,” said Mohammed Nadeem who lives near the crash site. A nearby power line also caught fire. There were no survivors … and a female flight attendant who was pulled alive from the plane’s wreckage died later in hospital.

Although, at this point, the crash is being blamed on technical sources, there is an ominous history to planes flying out of Multan and blowing up in the sky–that is how Gen. Zia-ul-Haq had been killed in 1988. Some are, therefore, raising eyebrows on the fact that, according to Gulf Daily News, “the passengers included two high court judges, a university vice chancellor and two military brigadiers.”

However, the more likely cause is that these are really old–and often rickety–planes. The Associated Press is already reporting the brewing controversy:

Khalid Hamza, the president of the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association, claimed the Fokkers in the PIA fleet — mostly used on less busy domestic routes — were aging and should be grounded. “I think these planes should have been grounded four, five years ago but perhaps the airline was waiting for such an accident,” [APP] quoted the airline’s deputy managing director Farooq Shah as saying that all of the planes — including the one that crashed — were airworthy, and that none of the remaining six had been grounded.

Chaudhry Bashir, a PIA spokesman, said the crashed plane was inducted into the airline’s fleet in 1979. It had flown for 79,000 hours and was due to be grounded on completing 90,000 hours, he said. “No PIA plane can come on the runway before it has had a full maintenance,” he said.

The crash could put PIA’s safety record under close scrutiny. The airline has reported a number of emergency landings in recent years and in December 2004, several passengers on a domestic flight were injured when one of its jets suddenly dipped, fearing a mid-air collision with another plane. In August 1989, another PIA Fokker, with 54 people on board, went down in Pakistan’s Himalayan north on a domestic flight. The plane’s wreckage was never found.

All pictures from BBC.

15 Comments on “Pictures of the Day: PIA plane crash”

  1. MSK says:
    July 10th, 2006 10:35 pm

    It is a horrible tragedy. But that is no reason not to ask questions. People have died here.

    I have travelled enough times on these Fokkers to know that they are generally in a bad state. I think the Airline Pilot Association guy has a point.

  2. Altamash Mir says:
    July 10th, 2006 11:12 pm

    This is indeed sad, but there should definitely be an investigation and people should be fired. Most likely, it was the old Fokker planes, but the person who cleared the plane for flight (Chief Engineer) should be blamed.

  3. Saad says:
    July 10th, 2006 11:33 pm

    The blame actually lies with the age of these aircrafts. PIA has been operating them since 1979 (from what I’ve heard this particular aircraft that crashed was made in 1964, I might be wrong though) and has been planning on replacing them with ATRs for quite some time now. I hope after this tragedy the process of acquisition of new aircrafts is speeded up.

  4. Saad says:
    July 11th, 2006 6:55 am

    And btw todays Dawn gave a biblography of F-27 Fokker crashes since 1970 serving in the PIA/PAF fleet – 6 Crashes and 185 deaths – I have absolutely no idea why are they still operating these planes

  5. Hamza says:
    July 11th, 2006 9:13 am

    An article in today’s dawn also claimed that a shortage of technical staff in PIA could also be the reason for plane crash. The article stated that about 30 of PIA’s technical staff had recently left PIA for a gulf based airline thus leaving them short staffed in that department.

  6. July 11th, 2006 10:37 am

    Folks, for more information and insightful analysis on this crash and the Fokker legacy, I woudl highly reccomend going to the blog The Glasshouse.

    This blog is worth reading regularly for its incisive commentary. On this story in particular, it has some very very pertinent information, put in the right analytical context. For example, it lists the PIA Fokker fleet:

    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BDR – Manufactured in 1959 – bought in 1979 from Brazil
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BAO – Manufactured in 1963 – bought in 1979 from France
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BAL – Manufactured in 1964 – bought in 1979 from France
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BDQ – Manufactured in 1964 – bought in 1989 from Brazil
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BCZ – Manufactured in 1966 – bought in 1987 from Australia
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BDB – Manufactured in 1966 – bought in 1988 from Australia
    PIA F27 – Reg: AP-BHF – Manufactured in 1982 – bought in 2005 from Sri Lanka

    The Glasshouse also compiles various pertinent editorial ccommentary on the clash, including this excerpt from an editorial in The Nation:

    “That all except the Kohat crash, which is supposed to have taken place on account of bad weather, occurred because of engine failure, should have warned the PIA engineering staff about the aircraft’s inherent weakness. A strong feeling developed among experts that Fokker planes had become obsolete and were not entirely safe for travel. This perception gained strength, particularly after the death of Air Chief Marshal Mir and it was proposed to replace them immediately. Somehow, the plan was shelved and it was decided to ground them by the end of 2006, which proves that official circles acknowledged the risk of travel abroad them; otherwise, there was no point in retiring them. However, last year, when some MNAs contended in the Parliament that the planes had flown far more than the recommended flight hours, the Defence Ministry officials maintained that they were fit for flying. It is unfortunate that the fleet has been kept in service at the risk of passengers’ lives for over three years after it was decided to replace them ‘immediately’. It is a great pity that the country has been buying expensive planes for VIP use, while the safety of ordinary passengers should have received the first priority and adequate finances should have been spared for this purpose.

  7. Raj says:
    July 16th, 2006 10:49 pm

    Hey…Does anyone has the list of ppl who were killed in the crash? If anyone of you have it please do let me know…I mean post it here!! thanks very much

  8. Helen says:
    August 6th, 2006 8:47 am

    I think you should look for it in mass media or authorities.

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