Bhoja Air tragedy

Published: April 21, 2012

KARACHI: That another plane has crashed — in eerily similar circumstances — on the same flight route of Karachi to Islamabad, in less than two years means that something is seriously wrong with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and how it regulates airline travel in Pakistan.

The CAA needs to be held accountable, not because it is yet to release the investigation report into the Airblue tragedy. What is needed is an independent authority to investigate all plane crashes, much like the National Transportation Safety Board in America, where the airline regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, does not carry out such probes. This is crucial because when the CAA launches a probe into an air crash, there is a clear conflict of interest because by extension, it is also investigating its own performance as an airline industry regulator.

Omar Khalid

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (1)

  • A H Khan
    Apr 22, 2012 - 1:04AM

    Without a detailed investigative report it is naiive to blame anyone and everyone from the Operator to the Civil Aviation Authority. Whilst aviation is one of the safest modes of transportation, it is not without its own inherent risks. It is also a known fact that no one thing contributes to a crash of such magnitude, rather it is a combination of a multitude of factors which leads to a tragic end result.

    All aircraft, whether old or new, have built in lightning protection so that even if hit by a lightning bolt, the charge of high voltage passes through the airplane and continues on towards the ground with as little damage to the aircraft as possible. Aircraft are known to be struck by lightning both at takeoff and at landing with little to no harm to the structure or body of the aircraft.

    Whilst the PakCAA is known to be lax, the body is still professional and is answerable to higher governing bodies like EASA and ICAO, who conduct regular audits of the body and certify it fit for operations. This also includes maintenance records of all airlines registered with the body which are checked for airworthiness and modifications. It would be criminal for PakCAA to tamper with or neglect such crucial records which could lead to an outright banning of the body and all airlines functioning under it’s heading. Therefore speculating lax attitude and corruption in such a crucial area is unfounded and uncalled for.

    Given the inclement weather at the time of the crash, one cannot rule out a case of severe microburst which has downed many a civil and private craft before, and often with fatal results. Admittedly new aircrafts are fitted with weather radars that can detect formed microbursts and many modern airports are equipped with such radars as well, but predicting a forming microburst is near impossible. It is bad luck for the pilot who hits a forming and unpredictable microburst, that too at such a crucial time as landing.

    With two tragedies in such a short timespan the need of the hour is constant vigilance and professionalism. A mandatory refresher course for all registered pilots with emphasis on new techniques and emergency situations is a must. So too is upgrading our outdated and ill suited airport infrastructure to bring them on par with advancements in civil air traffic operations. Whilst improvements in maintenance cannot be stressed more, it is of note that stories of the national flag carrier’s maintenance woes must not be mixed with maintenance operations of private airlines. Emotions have no role to play in cold, hard facts.

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