KARACHI: The Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday questioned the credibility of Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board’s inquiry report into the PIA’s ATR crash at Havelian in the Sindh High Court, submitting that “AAIB report seems to be based on lots of assumptions.”

The SHC was hearing a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the December 2016 flight of Pakistan International Airlines’ PK-661 crash inquiry in which 42 passengers, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and the crew, lost their lives. Filing comments about the entire procedure followed by the CAA for issuing airworthiness certificates to the aircraft and to the AAIB report before SHC, CAA’s director airworthiness submitted that findings of the inquiry report were vague and finalized without reviewing/evaluating the international civil aviation safety oversight system in general and Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) airworthiness surveillance mechanism and system in particular. He submitted the observations reflect lack of understanding and experience on the part of investigation team regarding functioning of PCAA as a regulator.

He submitted that the findings appear to be based on assumptions rather than actual review of the operator’s safety management system as the safety performance indicators targets have already been developed by the PIA, which include inflight shutdowns.

The CAA official submitted that despite noting several errors, omissions and strange action by the pilots against the documented procedures and established practices, the report has proceeded to conclude that safely landing the aircraft was beyond the capability of the cockpit crew. He said that though clearly mentioned in the report, the unsatisfactory performance of the flight crew during recurrent trainings has not been considered as a major cause of crash of a plane certified to land safely on single engine.

PIA’s chief technical officer also filed comments mentioning that the PIA workshop fully complied to the OEM and regulatory authority instructions in maintaining the propeller blades. It said that entire propeller blade inventory in stock rooms and on the aircraft was in full compliance to all applicable airworthiness requirements.

The court on the previous hearing had directed Director Airworthiness of Civil Aviation Authority to file comments about its procedure for issuing airworthiness certificates to the aircraft. The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after taking comments of CAA and PIA on record adjourned the hearing till January 18 on request of the petitioner who could not appear before the court due to illness.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board had fixed clear responsibility to procedure anomaly of PIA maintenance, citing ATR’s failure sequence was triggered because of the fracture of turbine blade.

Published in The News, 18 December, 2020