‘Faulty plane behind air chief’s crash-death’

ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary body yesterday was informed that the aircraft which had Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir on board, crashed because it was faulty.
The plane went down on 20th Feb 2003. It had 16 others on board including Air Chief’s wife.
The Public Accounts Committee’s sub-committee on monitoring and implementation, under the chairmanship of Rana Afzaal, was informed that the worthiness of the Fokker was ‘doubtful’.
The committee, reviewing the purchase of defective aircraft at exorbitant rate (Rs83 million), was informed that the ‘old aircraft’ had flown 46865 hours against the requirement of 20,000 hours max.
“After inspection by a team of Pakistan Navy one June, 1993, it appeared that the condition of the aircraft was alarming and air worthiness of the Aircraft was doubtful,” the audit officers informed the committee which was reviewing audit objections of Ministry of Defence Production of year 1996-97.
The committee head Rana Afzaal, giving three months time to present report to the committee, said “due to a faulty aircraft we lost Air chief.”
Whereas, Air force officials said to the committee that the plane crashed due to bad weather and pilot’s mistake. “It was not a technical fault but bad weather and mistake of pilot was the reason behind it,” said an air force official.
An audit official further informed that an old and unserviceable aircraft was purchased at US$1.50 million on which another US$.574 were incurred for procurement of two engines making its total cost US$ 2.07million (Rs83million).
It was informed that the GHQ had declared the aircraft as ‘surplus’ to the requirement and asked for its disposal. Pakistan International Airline (PIA) was approached for the sale of aircraft but received no response.
“GHQ vide their letter dated 10 May, 1993 intimated that disposal of Fokker aircraft be pended till finalisation of contract for purchase of a new executive aircraft for COAS and sale of old aircraft be linked with procurement of new aircraft by incorporating necessary clause in contract,” said audit official, sharing the detail of the crashed plane.
It was informed in a reply that the aircraft was purchased from ‘Maritime Security Agency’ (MSA) of Pakistan. The plane stayed with the Army for two years and 10 months before it was transferred to PAF in October 1994.
Audit commented that the aircraft was not found suitable for low flying as such Maritime Security Agency disposed it off by selling it to Pakistan Army for US$1.5million in April1991.
“After having negative response from PIA and NAVY the aircraft was given to PAF on gratis basis, which was not covered under the rules as the aircraft was authorized by the government to COAS,” says audit in the report.
A sub-committee had also held meeting in 2001, in which, audit pointed out that an amount of Rs83 million had been wasted due to purchase of defective aircraft.
The committee members also raised questions for purchasing a plane which had exhausted it airtime. They also asked the reasons behind purchasing the faulty plane on exorbitant prices.
Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir was martyred on the 20th of February 2003 when the Fokker F-27 he was onboard with 16 other including his wife crashed near Kohat. He was the 16th Chief of Air Staff of the PAF.
Earlier, the committee reviewed the audit objections related to loss to state due non-recovery of risk and cost expense amount from the defaulting firms at Rs 1148million. The committee settled the inappropriate utilisation of unspent balance of Rs 2759million. The committee has given three months time to ministry of defence to decide about the audit objection related to excess payment of Rs29.2million due to incorrect pricing. About the audit objection related to the loss of Rs 288million due to unnecessary procurement of store the committee has given one month time present report on it.

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