It has been almost 20 months since Airblue flight ED-202 crashed in Islamabad’s Margalla hills, killing all 152 onboard, but the investigation report – including recommendations to avert such catastrophes in the future – has been found unsatisfactory by the Peshawar High Court (PHC).
The PHC, where the Airblue management is currently facing a legal battle from families of the victims, had directed the federal government to have inspected fleets of all domestic airliners, including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by international experts.
Three months have passed and the inspection has yet to take place. In the meantime, an ill-fated plane of Bhoja Air, the private airline which recently resumed operation after the 2001 financial crisis, crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad on Friday, killing all 127 passengers and crew aboard.
The defence ministry has issued a notification of reinvestigation of the Airblue crash and ordered an inspection of the fleets of all domestic airlines. The ministry also informed the PHC that a letter has been written to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to nominate experts for the task.
According to Obaid Abbasi, a law officer of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), ICAO has forwarded the request of the Pakistani government to the UN secretary general for approval.
The defence ministry had submitted the investigation report on December 20, 2011 in the PHC. One of the reasons the court ordered that the investigation report be discarded was the negligent response of the authorities.
During the January 19 hearing, the PHC chief justice asked the president of the Safety Investigation Board of the CAA, Khawaja Majeed, in which container the Black Box of flight ED-202 was sealed. Majeed was ignorant of the methodology used for the preservation of the Black Box and could not give the court a satisfactory response.
As a result, the court rejected the report and passed an order available with The Express Tribune that said, “The investigation report submitted was found to be inconclusive and incomplete in many aspects because the interrogatories made from the officer and many aspects of the incident remained unsatisfied and unattended.”
The court ordered the federal government to constitute a competent and independent board of inquiry consisting of members and experts mentioned in the ICAO and Warsaw Convention.
The investigation report of Airblue, available with The Express Tribune, reveals that Khawja Majeed and his team had suggested some safety recommendations in the report to prevent such a disastrous crash in the future. Those suggestions included improved aircrew training, an implemented safety management system, prioritising the functionality of the new airport in Islamabad and a review of compensation regulations, among others.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.
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