Pakistan plane crashed as distracted pilots discussed Covid: Report

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash, that left 97 people dead in the southern port city of Karachi last month, was a result of human error by the pilot and air traffic control (ATC) as they got “distracted by discussions on the corona virus,” revealed an initial report into the disaster released on Wednesday.
The plane, an Airbus A320, en route from Lahore, had crashed into a residential area in Karachi, after trying to land at the city’s Jinnah International Airport. All on board, except two, were killed in the crash.
Both the pilots and ATC failed to follow “standard protocols”, Pakistan aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said, while announcing the initial findings in the National Assembly.
The pilots, the minister said, were distracted while talking about coronavirus. “The pilots were discussing corona throughout the flight. They were not focused. They talked about corona … their families were affected. When the control tower asked the pilot to decrease the plane’s height, he replied ‘I’ll manage’. There was over confidence,” Khan told the house.
“The control tower was at fault too for not pointing out the damage to the plane after a failed attempt at landing. The ATC should have informed when he saw the engines on fire. The control tower did not inform pilot, so it was at fault too. When the plane took off again, both engines were damaged,” he said.
The minister claimed that almost 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots have fake licenses and it was the major reason for frequent air crashes in the country. “There are 860 active pilots in the country and 262 of them did not even take their exams. They did not have flying experience either,” claimed Khan, insisting that action would be taken against rogue pilots.
He said that the government has begun taking action against all such pilots. “In the first phase, 54 such pilots were identified. Show cause notices were issued to 24 and nine others confessed that they were unqualified,” Khan said.
The minister said that full investigation report would be presented in one year’s time and it would include details from a recording taken during the descent.

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