ISLAMABAD - The investigation report on the last year's deadly air crash involving Bhoja Air's Boeing 737 is expected to be released before April 20 (incident's first anniversary) while delay in the report preparation was caused due to the ailment of Pakistan's only internationally recognised aviation investigator, who led the probe.
Citing microburst (MB) being a major cause of the plane crash, the report links the crash to the poor weather conditions, according to informed sources. Reportedly, around 100-page report is in its final stages. " Almost 95 per cent work on the report has been done. It's in the final stages," the officials said.
Sources term the Bhoja Air crash incident as "replica of flight 191 crash," that took place in the US in August 1985. "The weather conditions, the circumstances, the aircraft response and even the cockpit conversations were strikingly similar," the sources said. The Los Angeles bound flight 191, of the Delta Airlines had originated from Florida. It was on the way to landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when it crashed after facing a thunderstorm, killing 152 passengers and eight crew members.
Furthermore, launched in April last year, the investigation into the Bhoja Air crash incident was to be completed in the months that followed. However, head of the seven-member investigation team Mujahid Islam Khan fell seriously ill and had to go abroad for liver transplantation. Khan reportedly requested the Ministry of Defence (MD) to relieve him from the probe on health grounds, following which, the MoD last month appointed Air Commodore Basit, the Member (Operational) of the investigation team and President Safety Investigation Board (SIB), as Investigator In-Charge (IIC).
When approached, Mujahid Islam refused to comment on the queries regarding the investigation report on Bhoja Air crash incident. He confirmed suffering from a serious liver ailment that needed transplantation. "I'm not supposed to share any details about the report. It's strictly confidential. I haven't been going to office because I had a liver transplantation from China and underwent follow-up surgeries due to some complications. I'm getting treatment from a hospital in Lahore these days," he said.
In Pakistan's civilian and military aviation sectors, Mujahid Khan is the only internationally recognised aviation investigator certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Before probing Bhoja tragedy, he reportedly conducted successful investigations into 80 air crashes involving civilian and military aircraft, in Pakistan and abroad. The same expert has purportedly investigated the famous Pan Am Flight 103 air crash incident involving New York bound flight of Boeing 747 from London, bombed by the Libyan militants in 1988. His other major probes include Air Blue plane crash, General Zia-ul-Haq plane crash and Mushaf Ali Mir (Pakistan's former air chief) aircraft crash.
The other reported team members of the Bhoja probe are: Group Captain Rana Farooq and Group Captain Kabeer (Members Technical), Inamul Alvi (Member Air Traffic Service-ATS), Dr Anwar Bogio (Member Medical), Muhammad Riaz (Member Meteorological) and Obaid-ur-Rehman Abbasi (Member Legal). Till September 2012, it is further learnt, Group Captain Ilyas was the Member Technical of the probe team along with Kabeer. He was replaced with Rana Farooq upon retiring from the job. Moreover, soon after the crash incident, the then Director General Civil Aviation Authority Nadeem Yousafzai had reportedly appointed Dr Ejaz as Member Medical of the probe team but Mujahid Islam had reservations over his appointment purportedly because Ejaz lacked experience in flight surgery. Islam recommended Dr Bogio, the Chief Flight Surgeon at the CAA, who was then appointed Member Medical.
According to officials, Mujahid Islam Khan was diagnosed with the liver illness in June last year and had liver transplantation in the same month. By the time he fell ill, Islam had got the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) deciphered during his official visit to the United States in May, reportedly. "When Mujahid was caught in ailment, he had already completed major part of the probe as he wanted to complete the investigation in three months. Only report writing is left that is to be done by Air Commodore Basit," sources informed.
In June 2012, a three- member delegation led by Miss Lorinda, the Accredited Representative for Pakistan at the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), had arrived in Pakistan on a week-long visit to examine the air crash investigation. Each of the two other two experts in the delegation were from Boeing company, the aircraft manufacturers and Pratt and Whitney (PAW), Boeings' engine manufacturers. In their findings prepared in November last year, the experts reportedly noted that the probe being carried out by the Pakistani investigators was "in accordance with the provision of Annex 13" of the internationally accepted aviation criteria called Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP).
On April 20, 2012, Bhoja Air flight BH0213, a Boeing 737-236, crashed near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA), Islamabad, killing 127 passengers including five crew members. The flight had originated from Karachi.