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 responses to “Pictures of the Day: PIA plane crash”

  1. imtiaz says:

    first of oll let me tell u that i am a flight disatcher. being associated with this field i know that as long as the aircraft is oprated within the limits given by any government rules it is safe to fly if the aircrft has a C of A it will be safe to fly if the aircraft has a limit of 90,000 hrs it is safe to fly fro mora than 100,000 (10,000 as a safty margin) so who is left to blam is the either the plight plan, pilotage, mentenes

  2. Kaiser says:

    The PIA Pilot is more political than professional. This is a classic case of Pilot Error who Feathered the wrong engine and lost all power, the same happened in Karachi, when a fokker with no passengers crashed in an army installation,killing one of the pilots.
    Mr. Khalid Hamza a pilot of PIA must have flown a fokker in the early days of his career.I suggest professional integrity be the prime trait of of such a senior pilot who should admit that now the fokkers are flying in the Military who have not had any incident after the Multan Crash. Are the Military Pilots better than the Choclate cream PIA Pilots .All Fokker crashes so far are due to avoidable pilot error.Do You know there were 5 pilots on the fokker which is still missing. The were reconnitoring the route for a planned trek in the mountains, regardless of the safety of the other passengers.Most of the PIA Crashes occured due to gross violation of Flying discipline, Violation of Weather Warnings, and disregard of Safety Precautions.The Crash in Peshawar occured due to a very steep turn on finals, loosing altitude and the plane flew into the ground. Most of other occurences resulted in bad weather.In the early 70s’ Captain of the PIA Fokker did a controlled Flight into Terrain at JAlkot ,in the Northern Areas.I am personally witness to Steep turns by PIA pilots enroute to Gilgit , to entertain Foreigners/Friends.Mr.Hamza rather reconsider his statement, because nowadays kids know more about flying and it is fruitless hiding Facts.The Fokkers are still flying. I suggest Mr. Hamza instill better flying Discipline in his Colleagues,and ensure that they are adequately trained to handle emergencies.

  3. Helen says:

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

  4. Raj says:

    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

  5. Adil Najam says:

    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.

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