Between the period from July 2010 to July 2012, a Boeing 737, an Airbus A 321 and five small commercial planes including three trainer aircraft and a cargo airliner crashed in Pakistan. Despite that the CAA announced having launched a ‘detailed inquiry’ every time a crash involving a civilian aircraft was reported, not a single credible probe has been made public till date. Last year, however, the CAA had released an apparently fake and altered report on Airblue crash and presented it in the Peshawar Higher Court but court rejected the report and ordered a re-inquiry. The inquiry report after the reinvestigation conducted by foreign experts is to be submitted in the PHC soon.
The Director General CAA Air Marshal (r) Khalid Chaudhry admitted that the probe reports into some air crashes were pending, citing technical problems. “It’s correct. The reports of the air crash probes mostly involving small aircraft that took place in the recent years are pending due to technical issues. We are working on these reports and hopefully they’ll be released as soon as these reports are ready,” he told this correspondent
Chaudhry particularly mentioned of a plane crash involving a Russian aircraft in Karachi in 2010 saying that the technical aspects concerning the said plane were greatly hindering the investigation. “We’re encountering great difficulty in probing that plane crash. Hopefully, this would be sorted out.”
In the light of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) rules, making public the report of every civilian aircraft is necessary.
All the seven plane crashes had taken place when Air Commodore Khawaja Majeed, a serving Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer, was the President Safety Investigation Board (SIB) at the CAA and the related inquiries were delayed allegedly with his direct involvement under Khawaja’s supervision. From Monday to Wednesday, The Nation made a number of attempts to contact Majeed at his cell phone for comments but he did not respond.
The details of the plane crashes are as follow: On July 28, 2010, in the deadliest plane crash in Pakistan’s history, an Airbus 321 of the Airblue, a private Pakistani airline, was on the way to landing at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad when it crashed at Margalla Hills near Pirsohawa, Islamabad, amidst heavy downpour. All the 146 persons, including passengers and crewmembers onboard, were killed. The flight had originated from Karachi.
In the story titled “Troublesome times await CAA,” printed last month’s 31st, this correspondent had reported that the original report into Airblue crash, authored by Mujahid Islam Khan, the reported investigator of the crash incident, contained 338 pages while the report submitted in PHC consisted of only 38 pages and that ‘report’ was not even known to the investigator. It omitted major part of the portion highly critical of CAA for its failure to ensure foolproof aviation safety standards. The DG CAA had denied that the CAA presented a fake report in the PHC contending that the original report’s summary was presented in the court since the actual report was ‘excessively lengthy’.
Moreover, a two-member team of ICAO investigators that had arrived in Pakistan in June last year to re-probe the Airblue crash had reportedly found out that the CAA manipulated and distorted the original report, that was in accordance with the ICAO standards. Their findings would be presented in the PHC sometime in near future, reportedly.
On November 05 2010, a United States-manufactured 21-seater Beechcraft-1900 of Jahangir Siddiqui (JS) airline crashed in Karachi. All the 21 persons onboard including 19 passengers and two crew members were killed. On November 28, 2010, a Russia-manufactured Sudan-bound cargo plane Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft of Russian airline Sun Way crashed less than a couple of minutes after it took off from Karachi. Eleven people onboard were killed.
On October 20, 2011, A Piper Seneca training aircraft of Schon Air crashed near Karachi while flying to Nawabshah. All the three people onboard had remained safe.
On February 23, 2012, a two-seater trainer airplane crashed in Model Town Lahore near the residence of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, killing a woman instructor and a trainee pilot onboard.
On April 20, 2012, another mega air crash rocked Pakistan in less than two years after Airblue plane crash incident. Bhoja Air’s 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. The inquiry led by Mujahid Islam Khan was launched in April last year. It was expected to be completed in three months but the investigator suffered from a serious liver ailment and underwent treatment in China that caused delay in report’s compilation and release. In December last year, Air Commodore Basit was made the Investigation In-Charge (IIC) of Bhoja air crash probe and the report is expected by April this year, as reported in The Nation on January 11, 2013.