Delayed arrival: Pilot blamed for AirBlue crash

Published: November 28, 2011

Men are reflected on a monument carrying the names of the victims of a passenger plane crash at a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the incident, near the site at Margalla Hills in Islamabad July 28, 2011. The Pakistani passenger plane, Airblue, crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad on July 28, 2010, killing all 152 people on board. PHOTO:REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A year and a half after the tragic AirBlue plane crash, the public will finally learn why the disaster happened.

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar exclusively told The Express Tribune that the investigation report of the deadliest air accident in Pakistan’s history will be released on December 15. According to Mukhtar, the captain of the plane, Pervez Iqbal Chaudhry, has been held responsible for the crash. “It was a pilot error, you will see yourself in the report,” the minister said.

AirBlue flight ED-202 crashed in the Margalla Hills, north of Islamabad, on July 28, 2010, killing all 146 passengers and 6 crew members on board.

The minister said a transcript of communication between Pervez and the first officer Muntajib Ahmad, who was a former Pakistan Air Force pilot, will be issued with the report. It shows that the two men disagreed over landing the plane.

On the day of the crash, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani promised the nation that the cause of the accident would be found out. The PM asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate.

According to Mukhtar, the report was completed by the CAA team and handed over to the defence ministry, which in turn submitted it to Gilani. The PM then sent it to the manufacturer for their comments.

When asked about the delay in publication, the minister said the course of law was being followed. Following the investigation, the manufacturer submits its comments within 60 days; the PM can make the report public only after this process is complete. Mukhtar added that the manufacturer has returned the report.

Familes of those who lost their lives in the crash have been eagerly waiting the report’s findings. With the support of a few victims’ family members, former parliamentarian Marvi Memon had moved the Peshawar High Court to ground all AirBlue flights until the government made the report public. That court conducted several hearings, but the government successfully held them off and delayed publicising the report.

Ultimately, PHC’s chief justice Ijaz Afzal Khan on November 16 warned the government of serious consequences if the report was not submitted in court by December 20. Following his firm line, Justice Khan was promoted to the Supreme Court.

Junaid Hamid, who lost his wife in the crash and convened the AirBlue Crash Affectees Group, was of the view that it is the fundamental right guaranteed under article 19,A of the constitution that victim’s families know the cause of the accident.

Hamid said the Sindh High Court had also ordered the government in November last year to make the report public, but its order was never implemented. He said he had high expectations from the new chief justice of PHC, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, a man with a reputation for following through on court orders.

Hamid termed the defence minister’s announcement a political gimmick. He said the government wants to take credit for making the report public before December 20, rather than issuing it due to the PHC’s new chief justice’s order.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.

 

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:18AM

    This would be the first report on anything that would be made public. Would we ever see Hamood Rehman, Abbottabad, Kargil, Mehran Base, GHQ attack and other reports?

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:04AM

    @Mirza:
    hamood ur rehman report is available to public. i have it in my docs

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:32AM

    It is always that a individual is held responsible for the fault and not the institution who hired a retired PIA Pilot.

    The bottom line is that all the passengers died in the air crash but the question arises: whether Air Blue has paid the compensation to the legal heirs of the passengers as yet or not?

    The dead will not come back but their legal heirs are still going through the agony.

    What sort of justice system do we have in Pakistan?

    This is one of the reasons that people says that Justice delayed is Justice denied.

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  • Gul Khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:32AM

    What’s the point in putting ‘Delayed Arrival’ in the title. Journalism shall be unbiased, grow up ET.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:39AM

    @ Mirza

    Hamood ur rehman report was published while you were asleep. When you wake up, you can read it.

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  • Adi
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:44AM

    Mirza, do you get paid to be anti-military everytime? How does the Air Blue crash linked to the events you mentioned above?

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:45AM

    Ya right, blame the dead man as it is the easiest way out. Something we all knew the govt would do from day one. And it took them more than a year to conclude the blame. LOL!

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  • ibrar khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:07AM

    It is a democratically elected Govt that is making a report public. none of the dictators ever let the common man know what happened at the critical junctures of the nation’s history. Long Live democracy and PPP!

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  • Mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:31AM

    Can anybody please send me the URL for Rehman Commission Report? Thanks in advance.
    My comments were about the reports that never come out in Pakistan, especially for many years.

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  • faraz
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @Hu Jintao, Ghaznavi

    Hamood ur Rehman report was leaked and published in Indian magazine India Today in August 2000, 30 years after the Dhaka fall

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:24PM

    @Mirza:
    Do your homework yourself.

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  • gr0w up!
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:26PM

    @Mirza:
    here is the full report
    http://www.bhutto.org/Acrobat/HamoodurRahmanCommissionReport.pdf

    @Ghaznavi there no need to be rude if someone does’nt know about something its better to tell him instead of cursing him

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  • Shafaq Mustafa
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:32PM

    Its useless. Our AirLine Industry will never Learn from it. This report will not provide Justice to the AirBlue Crash Affectees Group.

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  • faraz
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:05PM

    Mirza is right, it wasnt published but leaked 30 years later

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 1:26PM

    this is exactly the problem, from airblue we went to fight on hammod ur rehaman. wah! and we put all on govt, we are equally messy!

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:58PM

    Funny to see how the poor @Mirza is being mobbed at the first available opportunity.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:01PM

    If this report is actually published (I will believe it only when I see it), it will be the first report on an air accident in 64 years.

    Whether the courts forced the government’s hand, or the media, I don’t know but it will be a great day for transparency and for the safety of air travel.

    I would guess the report has several safety recommendations which will be binding.

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  • Aaliyah
    Nov 28, 2011 - 4:01PM

    So the government is producing a report. at least that’s a positive step. Even if the government wants to look good and produce it before the deadline of the court..whats wrong in that?

    Also, coming from an airforce family and extended discussions about the crash within our home.. every pilot seems to agree to the fact that it was the pilots fault. So they didnt have to take so long but .. because they did..it is possibly an indicator that they really wanted to find out the facts.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 5:18PM

    @RizwanTKhan:

    The sad truth is that human error does account for a majority of air accidents. I think it is somewhere in excess of 70%. True dead pilots can’t talk or defend themselves. But it is the dead pilots who make mistakes — or else they would not be dead.

    Hopefully, the publication of this report will put to rest the bizarre theories propounded earlier: missile hit from the US Embassy roof, hi-jack by Blacwater/Xe, suicide, shoot-down by ack-ack guns from Kahuta, and so on.

    People here were deeply comitted to these theories. There was only a former Air Force officer and myself who said that based on the evidence we had before us at the time this was a classic case of a CFIT accident (Controlled-Flight-Into-Terrain).

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  • Mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 8:08PM

    I am aware of it being leaked from India long ago. However, since when we Pakistanis take Indian leaks as official publication of Pakistan SC decisions? I have not been talking about leaks but authentic official publication in Pakistan. Sorry if I was not clear to some. Thanks for the URl though. A civil discussion is always appreciated.

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  • khan jr
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:28PM

    @Ghaznavi

    Please do get your fact right.

    The Hamoodur Rahman Commission was submitted to the government in November 1974.

    It was hidden from the Pakistani public.No action was ever taken based on this report, the report was classified and its publication disallowed.

    Finally 26 years later, in August 2000, parts of the report were leaked and published in Indian magazine India Today. The following day in Pakistan the newspaper Dawn bravely published the supplementary report.

    In December 2000, 29 years after the inquiry was completed, the full commission report was finally declassified in Pakistan by Musharraf’s Military government in December 2000.

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  • ahmed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:34PM

    In addition to the report, the black box recording should be made public. That would clarify the doubts in the family’s minds especially given our govts poor records on transparency. Basically it most likely would have been a pilot error. The other possibility may primarily have to do with poor maintenance of the plane especially given the financial problems of Air blue. I believe that the international aviation authorities consider it a requirement to submit the report because it has to be sent to the manufacturer also in order to rule out anything wrong with those types of planes which is essential info for other samilar model planes operating around the world.

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  • linga0123
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:18AM

    The leaked Hamoodur Commission report was the supplementary report. The original report is yet to see the light of the day. Rumour has it that only one copy of the report exist.

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  • Yasir Mehmood
    Nov 29, 2011 - 1:50AM

    @mirza
    the humood ur rehman commision was tampered by mushy government as claimed by someone i cant remember on tv

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  • Cautious
    Nov 29, 2011 - 5:30AM

    It took 1.5 years to acknowledge pilot error and when asked blames the delay on the 60 days that the airplane mfg is allotted for reviewing the document? Does anyone think that is an appropriate reason for the delay — and does anyone think the mfg even took 60 days given that the report clearly exonerates them. This is just one more reason that people question the credibility of statements made by the govt and military.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:56AM

    Thanks guys for clearing up the matter of HR. Report. It never was officially published by Pakistani govt or SC of Pakistan. Thanks to people who kept the debate and to those also who were only on the attack.
    Regards,
    Mirza

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