A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft skidded off the runway during a landing attempt amid heavy downpour at Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday.
According to reports, PIA Flight PK653, inbound from Islamabad, skidded off the main runway of Lahore’s airport due to miscommunication between the pilot and air traffic control (ATC). The ATR-42 aircraft, carrying 42 passengers along with four crew members, attempted to land through heavy rainfall.
Reportedly, the aircraft’s landing gear collapsed upon touchdown causing it to skid off the runway. Two of its tyres also burst during the skid and the plane’s right wing collided with the ground. Luckily, it did not catch fire.
No passenger was hurt in the accident according to both PIA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
PIA sources blamed ATC for the incident, saying the landing should never have been cleared in such bad weather.
“Visibility was low due to heavy rain… ATC should not have directed the pilot to land,” they maintained.
The CAA spokesperson, however, claimed that landing in such weather was not inherently dangerous. He said the Civil Aviation Authority inquiry board will investigate the incident to determine who was responsible for the accident.
According to the PIA spokesperson, the airline’s chairman also ordered an inquiry to determine responsibility for the incident. Damage to the aircraft will also be assessed, he added.
Passengers on the flight also claim the landing was not normal and demanded it be investigated at the highest level.
Many on board were in shock following the narrow escape from disaster. Their relatives waiting to receive them at the airport also experienced fear and anxiety as news of accident reached them. The feelings soon turned to anger at authorities, once the passengers’ safety was assured.
While the airport’s second runway was cleared for flight operations (except for larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 and 777) soon after the incident, the main runway was opened late evening after the CAA inquiry board chairman visited the site. The damaged aircraft was also moved to a hangar for maintenance and repair.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2012.
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