–Air-traffic controller and approach traffic controller say pilot didn’t give emergency landing message, collided with runway during first attempt
–PALPA protests probe info ‘leak’, ask why a long route was designated for ill-fated plane
KARACHI: The on-duty air traffic controller and the approach tower controller told the Air Investigation Board that the pilot of PK-8303 ignored the repeated instructions, causing the death of 97 people in a subsequent crash near Karachi airport last week.
The written reply to AIB said that on May 22, PK 8303 was handled by the Approach Tower Controller from Lahore to Karachi. The task of landing the aircraft was then transferred to ATC, 10 nautical miles before landing. They claimed that the captain ignored instructions given 10 nautical miles before landing.
The approach controller said that before landing, when the plane is usually at an altitude of 1800 feet, the captain was flying at an altitude of 3000 feet and even after repeated instructions, the captain maintained that he would manage altitude and speed before landing.
The ATC further said that the captain landed the plane for the first time without opening the landing gear. On the first landing, both engines collided with the runway and rubbed against it three times and caused sparking before the captain pulled the plane back up and asked for permission to land again.
According to sources, the investigation team questioned the ATC and the approach tower controllers whether the captain had signalled for an emergency landing, to which they replied that the captain did not declare to attempt an emergency landing and insisted that he would land normally.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) on Tuesday protested against the alleged leak of details of a probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash incident.
“The administration seems no more interested in conducting a thorough probe into the incident,” PALPA claimed in a statement, adding that the leak was aimed at diverting the investigation into the incident that claimed lives of 97 people onboard except two survivors. “They want to save the real characters behind the incident,” it alleged.
The association said that the pilots also have questions to be asked from the air traffic control officials.
They asked why a long route was designated for the ill-fated plane. “The air traffic control officials are trying to portray a wrong picture by merging details of first and second landing attempts of the plane,” PALPA said.
It merits a mention here that the air traffic controller (ATC) and approach tower controllers have submitted written replies to the investigation board. It stated that the approach tower controller had handled the flight from Lahore to Karachi and the task was handed over to the ATC to make the plane land safely at the airport. The landing task had been given by the approach tower to the ATC after 10 nautical miles.