KARACHI: The new footage of the PIA airbus PK8303 that crashed on May 22, 2020 in Karachi has established that the aircraft touched down the runway at least four times in the first attempt but the landing gear did not open, causing the fuselage particularly the engines to suffer aggravated damage from abrading with the runway.
The exclusive footage run by Geo News’s reporter Tariq Abul Hassan establishes what was earlier not recognised by the CAA and the national airliner, that the landing gear had not opened during the attempted landing. The footage raises more questions regarding the role of the air traffic controllers and of course the cockpit crew ie pilots in the tragedy.
The video captured by the CAA runway 69 video camera establishes that within three seconds the PIA airbus abraded against the runway four times, before finally lifting off again. According to the new footage the aircraft managed to touch down the runway four times 2:33:34, 2: 33:35, 2:33:38 and the fourth time at 2:33:40. The abrasive contact with the ground and the engines igniting sparks due to friction could also be seen in the new video. The attempted landing without the landing gear also establishes that while approaching from the Model Colony, the airbus came down on landing strip 69 way ahead from its scheduled point of touch down, almost in the middle after the ATC Terminal and the VIP Terminal, leaving little runway ahead to accomplish safe landing, except that there was a huge “Katcha” track of loose earth ahead.
According to the preliminary CAA report, “the landing gears had opened when the aircraft was 10 NM away from the airport. But since it was flying at a higher elevation than needed for optimal landing, the wheels were retracted to enable the plane to descend at a highly accelerated speed and eventually when the plane landed the wheels did not open. “
According to aviation experts, “under a systemic and an automatic safety mechanism if the plane is thrusting at a speed of 250-260 mph, the landing gears do not open. “ The overspeeding is being considered as the reason for the wheels not to have descended during the touch down and as a consequence the engines fiercely abraded against the runway, the tell tale marks of which were visible on the runway. This is being understood to have damaged the engine, the engine oil compartment and the fuel pipe, both of which not only leaked, but the engine oil dangerous mixed with the fuel. “Together the three are believed to have retarded the plane from gaining the height to circle back to the runway. This followed the pilot’s Mayday all and communication that both the engines had failed,” the experts concur.
While the CAA and the PIA are still working on to finalise and conclude the report disturbing questions are agitating the minds that if the horrendous tragedy could have been averted. The basic questions are why the aircraft was at a higher altitude during its approach to the runway?” How come the pilot could not know that the landing gear had not opened during the descent? Did the pilot and copilot chose to ignore the shrieking alarms in the cockpit warning about the status of the landing gear.? Were the alarms actually working? When the plane had touched down despite all odds and the engines were abrading with the runway and the sparks were flying out, why the air traffic controller allowed the plane to take off and directed the pilot to attempt another approach.? Was the pilot informed of the abrasive touch down by the air traffic controllers.?, which is visible in the CAA runway footage. During the entire investigations why the pilot representative body PALPA not made part of the inquiry.? Being the pilots they could have shed different light on the entire episode about the airworthiness of the aircraft and the cockpit conditions to guide investigations.
Honest answers to these questions alone would establish if the loss of life and that to the country’s repute could have been prevented and only then other disasters could be avoided.
Published in The News, December 13, 2020