Aviation experts welcome inquiry into PK 787 engine failure

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The inquiry ordered, into the incident of engine failure of PIA flight PK 787, on November 18 (Sunday) by the President of Pakistan has been welcomed by aviation experts and former pilots of national carrier.

The PIA Airbus-310 had developed a fault in its engine number one soon after takeoff from Karachi Airport at 12:48 pm. The pilot in command Captain Ahmed Saeed at approximately 1500 feet ground level noticed engine number one stalled, surges took place accompanied by loud thuds, rumbling and bangs were also heard.

Air Traffic Controller (ATC) reported smoke coming out of the engine. Check list was carried out immediately by the Captain and using his skills he controlled the aircraft and landed back without any problem ensuring safety of all 167 passengers and 11 crew on board. Captain Ahmed Saeed, assisted by First Officer Faruqi using his experience did not panic in the situation and equipped with expertise and skills imparted during rigorous training sessions by his seniors kept flying the airbus, for about 20 minutes before conducting a smooth landing with precision on remaining one engine.

PIA Managing Director, Captain Junaid Yunus, himself an experienced pilot of Boeing 777, after getting complete details about smooth handling of the aircraft in such a situation had announced a medal for the flying crew of the aircraft. However, aviation experts have demanded a probe into the role of Air traffic controllers regarding the incident of flight PK-787 and said only pilot's alertness and skills are not a guaranty to avert such incidents. Air traffic controllers' role is very crucial and government should also inquire into the state of Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) role which neither possess the required equipment nor has trained human resources at its disposal to ensure effective role of ATCs which is currently at its lowest ebb in such incidents.

Sources said in the past ATC's negligence had been questioned in many incidents while the role of CAA and ATC could not be put aside in the plane crashes of Bhoja Air, Air Blue and other airliners. He said once pilot had informed the ATC regarding the engine failure then ATC should have engaged the pilot into discussion ensuring that he stays alert and does not panic and performs all procedures according to the safety rules. They said ATC's inefficiency put at risk the lives of around 180 souls.

Sources said that radio silence, as reported by media of about 2-3 minutes in this critical situation was a point to be probed, whether the ATC knew the procedures and the requirement. The Airbus A310 at this speed travels about 6-7 nautical miles per minute, hence the travel up to "navigation point" "melom" is not at all a surprise.

Experts appreciated the role of cockpit and cabin crew who averted the disaster and instead of panicking kept their minds present and used training and skills not only to land back safely but to disembark the passengers safely. Though, it was a normal engine shut down and pilots are trained for such incidents but the role of ATCs should be more effective to help pilots, they said.

Experts also reminded ATCs negligence in the past and said last year on April 14, a PIA flight Airbus PK 370 took off from Karachi for Islamabad around 7 pm, as per routine taking flight height and route approvals from ATCs, it proceeded towards Lahore. While giving descending command/ permission at around 8:15 pm to PK 370 the ATC Lahore did not realise that a PAF aircraft with call sign 047 is cruising at 26,000 feet above sea level, a height which was soon to be attained by PK 370 while descending towards Islamabad. The ATC personnel had given descend order to PK 370 and asked it to change frequency and get connected to Islamabad air field controller. During the switchover frequency procedure, the PIA flight while descending came right at the height at which the PAF 047 aircraft was cruising. Pilot used his training skills thus averted a mid air crash which could have resulted in yet another crisis of Pakistani airspace which had witnessed three worst scenes during last one year.

Similarly this year in July, a PIA aircraft avoided colliding head on mid air with a jet fighter of PAF near Quetta due to the negligence of ATC Quetta, On Tuesday morning, June 21, around 9:30 am, PIA's flight PK-363 (an Airbus A-310 bearing registration number AP BEQ) that was arriving at Quetta from Islamabad was asked by the ATC to hold at flight level 20,000 feet.

While a PIA aircraft after permission from ATC started approaching the Quetta airport's runway the automatic equipment of PIA Airbus warned the pilot of other aircraft in close proximity and instructed to immediately pull up. The pilot of PIA Airbus showing high skills and reflexes acted upon the advice and pulled the aircraft back to flight level 20,000 feet to avoid colliding with PAF's jet. Sadly enough, no inquiry has yet been ordered into these negligence.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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