A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 crash that killed 98 people has been blamed on pilot error, according to a preliminary report. Apparently, the pilots were chatting about COVID-19 instead of paying attention to their duties and many other errors.
Preliminary Report Lays Heavy Blame On PIA Pilots
Per the WSJ, a report issued by Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Pakistan’s Minister of Aviation, pointed out numerous faults:
- The A320’s descent to land was to steep
- The “black box” voice recorder indicated the pilots were chatting about COVID-19 instead of focusing on the landing
- Despite repeated warnings from air traffic control, the pilots refused to circle around for final approach
- Pilots also ignored onboard warning signals and alarms
- The landing gear was lowered 10 miles away from Karachi (KHI) where the crash took place, but then raised again (for “unexplained” reasons)
- The pilots did not inform air traffic control that the landing gear would not deploy (suggesting they did not even know it was up)
- Upon landing, the aircraft engines scraped the tarmac for 3,000 to 4,000 feet, causing a shower of flames
- This prompted the flight crew to abort landing, another critical error
- Both engines failed once the flight was back in the air
Plenty of Blame To Go Around…
Kahn said the pilots were “overconfident, and not focused.” But that wasn’t the only problem. air traffic control was also faulted for allowing the landing despite the A320 traveling faster and higher than recommended (they warned the pilots, but did not prohibit the landing). Furthermore, air traffic control also apparently did not notice that the landing gear was not deployed.
Also, fragments of the A320 engine on PK8303 remained on the runway for 12 hours…debris that could have caused damage to other aircraft. Finally, air traffic controllers should have been relieved after the incident, but continued to work for several more hours.
The formal preliminary report will be presented to the National Assembly today. Sadly, it looks like the crash and loss of life was very much preventable.
image: Shadman Samee / Wikimedia Commons