Shaheen Air pilot refuses to take off after detecting hole in plane wing

Published: January 5, 2016
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

A Shaheen Air pilot on Monday possibly saved the lives of hundreds of passengers, mostly Umrah pilgrims, when he refused to fly a plane with a damaged wing.

According to details, some 330 passengers were scheduled to depart for Saudi Arabia on a Shaheen Airline flight NL-721 at 22:15 local time when the pilot came to know that the plane was not checked properly by airport engineers.

“It was discovered at the eleventh hour and the pilot immediately refused to fly with a hole in the plane’s wing, saying it will crash within seconds,” a senior official requesting anonymity said.

Shaheen Air crash landing: Pilot was tired, drunk: CAA

A scuffle broke out between the engineering staff and the management since the flight was about to takeoff minutes before the mechanical failure was detected.

“The passengers were eventually told that the flight had been delayed and it would fly at 6:00PM on Tuesday,” the official said, adding another flight scheduled to leave for Jeddah on Tuesday was delayed until 8:00AM on Wednesday. He said the first flight was delayed for 20 hours whereas the second one for 10 hours.

Unfit to fly: Challan of ‘inebriated’ Shaheen Airlines pilot presented to ATC

When contacted for an official version on the issue, Station Manager Muhammad Mushtaq refused to comment on the incident by hanging up on this correspondent and then refused to respond to further calls.

Reader Comments (21)

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 5, 2016 - 7:26PM

    Commendations to pilot ! As for airport engineer, should be fired for not doing a thorough, if not Six Sigma, check on plane.Recommend

  • Aamir - Toronto
    Jan 5, 2016 - 8:14PM

    Another tragedy averted, thanks to the pilot !!!

    I hope the concerned authority will punish the culprit.Recommend

  • Vw
    Jan 5, 2016 - 9:44PM

    Looks like there is a serious lack of safety oversight in this company. They still havent learned from their past serious incidents.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jan 5, 2016 - 10:25PM

    I believe a lesson is in order.
    There are two aircraft documents which deal with aircraft serviceability .
    1) MEL ( Minimum Equipment List) which generally deals with INOP or defective systems. It is originally issued by aircraft manufacturer ( called Master MEL) and it details all the systems that CAN BE INOP upto a certain amount of time ( sometimes even days) but aircraft is perfectly safe to fly. A further layer of safety is added by the operator and local CAA which restricts many conditions in which manufacturer considers aircraft airworthy to a higher degree, thus Considering Aircraft Unserviceable according to MEL even though Manufacturer considers it Serviceable in MMEL. An example of MEL item is. Auxilary Power Unit of an aircraft can be Unserviceable for upto 120 days ( differs in different models.
    2) CDL ( Configuration Deviation) is a similar document which generally deals with “MISSING” items such as panels or external items. An example is some aircraft are considered Serviceable WITH A MISSING WINGLET.
    Not to mention there are Many REDUNDANCIES in an Aircraft which allow above mentioned exemptions. The below cited report is HIGHLY INACCURATE borders on CRIMINAL IGNORANCE of AIRCRAFT SAFETY PROCEDURES which is not unlike much of content of EXPRESS TRIBUNE, the article apparently written by someone with NO Aviation knowledge just to create the hysteria our MEDIA is adept at.
    The AIRCRAFT was PERFECTLY SAFE TO FLY, covered under CDL. MUCH SAFER THAN A DRUNK PILOT AT THE HELM. If AIRBUS itself considers AIRCRAFT SAFE there isn’t a better expert on the matter.
    I hope this clears things up.Recommend

  • cautious
    Jan 5, 2016 - 10:45PM

    Something like that happened in the USA the Federal authorities would immediately ground all planes of that airline – demand an inspection of all aircraft – and place the airline under close watch to insure that all rules were followed. Anyone think that’s going to happen to Shaheen?Recommend

  • MJA
    Jan 5, 2016 - 11:41PM

    Umer Farooq: Kindly do your research properly and stop quoting anonymous sources because they are the least credible sources of information and simply thrive to provide drama, false and sensationalist news. For someone with over 35 years of aviation knowledge, I can confirm that no aircraft has ever ‘crashed within seconds’ because of a ‘hole in the wing’. Aircraft have stayed airborne and safely landed with half their fuselage blown out of the side. Furthermore, with a so-called hole in the wing, that would have resulted in immediate fuel spillage which has not been reported. If at all a small part of the wing was probably dented due to a bird strike which is very common in Pakistan and in particular at Lahore airport and none of these incidents have ever threatened the safety of the aircraft which are extremely robust and well built to withstand such occurances. It is unfortunate that the Pakistani media is all too willing and able to over dramatize the smallest of incidents and quote frivolous ‘unnamed’ sources which are nothing short of unreliable. The media has a duty and an obligation to provide its viewers and readers with truthful and professionally researched and reported news and facts, not tabloid journalism. Recommend

  • Talha
    Jan 6, 2016 - 12:16AM

    I believe a lesson is in order.
    There are two aircraft documents which deal with aircraft serviceability .
    1) MEL ( Minimum Equipment List) which generally deals with INOP or defective systems. It is originally issued by aircraft manufacturer ( called Master MEL) and it details all the systems that CAN BE INOP upto a certain amount of time ( sometimes even days) but aircraft is perfectly safe to fly. A further layer of safety is added by the operator and local CAA which restricts many conditions in which manufacturer considers aircraft airworthy to a higher degree, thus Considering Aircraft Unserviceable according to MEL even though Manufacturer considers it Serviceable in MMEL. An example of MEL item is. Auxilary Power Unit of an aircraft can be Unserviceable for upto 120 days ( differs in different models.
    2) CDL ( Configuration Deviation) is a similar document which generally deals with “missing” items such as panels or external items. An example is some aircraft are considered Serviceable with a missing winglet
    Not to mention there are Many redundancies in an Aircraft which allow above mentioned exemptions. The below cited report is highly inaccurate borders on criminal ignorance of Aircraft Safety Procedures which is not unlike much of content of ET with no Aviation knowledge just to create the hysteria our media is adept at.
    The Aircraft was Perfectly safe to fly, covered under CDL. If AIRBUS itself considers Aircraft Safe there isn’t a better expert on the matter.
    I hope this clears things up.
    P.S. Only ALLAH can guarantee Safety. We can only try and do our best, May ALLAH keep everyone safe.Recommend

  • Misleading
    Jan 6, 2016 - 12:27AM

    @MJA:
    @Talha:
    The pilot would have known all the technical hyper talk that you are masquerading here or if he did not know the technical aspects of safety, why would the airline hire an incompetent pilot? On the other hand, if the pilot was competent, why would he complain about the safety of the aircraft if that was not the issue?
    Clearly, there was something amiss or the pilot would have flown the aircraft.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 6, 2016 - 4:59AM

    @MJA:
    Probably because you have been piloting scotchtape held together F-86 Sabres for a good portion of your flying career. But what’s good for the goose is certainly not good for the gander ! A hole in the wing of a civilian aircraft is a very big no-no, irrespective of whether this goes in Pakistan or the theoretical niceties cited by you.Recommend

  • Ashar
    Jan 6, 2016 - 6:46AM

    @MJA:
    An interesting perspective.Recommend

  • Vw
    Jan 6, 2016 - 9:15AM

    Shaheen i think is doing its best.
    I dont think its an unsafe company as yet. This all from the COMMENTS atleast, seems to be a lapse in oversighting the turnaround of the aircraft on the ramp.
    It happens once in a while and i am sure that their management will be more carefull next time. The hazard depends on how bad was the bird strike and how bad could have been if the aircraft would have flown with the condition uncorrected.
    I seriously doubt if any structural integerety would be in doubt at all, again depending on the bird strike ( hahaha @ hole- how can u have a hole hahaha).

    To my friends at shaheen, be careful next time by not turning small incidents into bigger ones, if at all this case was if just a minor bird strike.Recommend

  • Naveed Ahmed Sethi
    Jan 6, 2016 - 9:35AM

    @MJA

    @Haji Atiya

    I am no expert in aviation but what MJA said is true. “The media has a duty and an obligation to provide its viewers and readers with truthful and professionally researched and reported news and facts, not tabloid journalism.”. The person reporting this news is hitting three sides, the Shaheen Airline, The CAA and the passengers. My first impression as a passenger after reading the article was NO MORE SHAHEEN AIRLINES. The credibility of CAA and the engineers at the airports is being challeneged as well, now I will be always thinking does the plane in which I am flying has the same issues.
    Apart from this, I suppose you both MJA & Atiya are into the aviation and you can surely guide us that what is the basic knowledge that we as passengers must have and which we may inuire from the Flight Crew at the time of the flight. This would be more approprite rather than taunting each other. Recommend

  • omar
    Jan 6, 2016 - 10:01AM

    @Talha: thanks, can you give a brief introduction about yourself?Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Jan 6, 2016 - 10:32AM

    @Naveed Ahmed Sethi: From what I hear, a hole in the wing means a greater likelihood of hairline fractures and subsequent metal and/or composite fatigue. That apart, the safety record of Shaheen, especially of late, is rather dubious.Recommend

  • Naveed Ahmed Sethi
    Jan 6, 2016 - 1:10PM

    @Rollin & Trollin:

    I agree, I am a frequent flyer as well and I have my doubts over the safety issues but what I said was in an optimistic way. Recommend

  • Jan 6, 2016 - 5:59PM

    Shaheen airline belongs to paf n their staff will give all the stupid logics to prove their credibility but fact is that it plays with lives of passsengersRecommend

  • Sehi Banda
    Jan 6, 2016 - 8:16PM

    There is definitely more to this story than half baked story. I have worked in Aviation industry in US, and was responsible for Crew Scheduling. Often times the pilots did not wanted to fly the Aircraft and made many silly excuses. This sounds like the Pilot needed some rest and was not in mood to fly so he made came up with a perfect scenario. Usually the Airplanes on the runway have flown in from another route and are ready to depart, so this airplane was Airworthy and was in flying condition. The pilot however was not in flying condition, they do this sort of things all the time.Recommend

  • Murtaza
    Jan 6, 2016 - 10:14PM

    @Misleading:
    Pilot is not engineer. You are confusing the two.

    Besides just because the article says the plane would have crashed soon after takeoff does not mean the pilot actually said that. He may have said something else entirely or not said anything at all just refused to fly.

    Or perhaps it was the management that grounded the plane. Or the engineers. Who knows what really happened? Was there even a flight today?Recommend

  • MJA
    Jan 7, 2016 - 10:41AM

    @kk: Shaheen is no longer owned by the PAF. They sold the airline off years ago. Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2016 - 9:14AM

    it might be a drain hole in the wing not a main holeRecommend

  • Student
    Mar 4, 2016 - 3:55PM

    As far as my thoughts. Shaheen Air Line should be bannedRecommend

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