A flying instructor and a trainee pilot died when their two-seater plane crashed into a house in H Block, Model Town, on Thursday afternoon.
The plane belonging to Hybrid Aviations crashed in the driveway of 143-H Model Town after spiralling down at a very steep angle, according to eyewitnesses.
The engine appeared to stop before the plane started descending and the wreckage did not catch fire, suggesting the aircraft may have run out of fuel.
The instructor Anita Qureshi, 26, and trainee pilot Waqar Asif, 20 – both from Karachi died in the impact. Ashraf Ali, Waqar Asif’s uncle, said the 20-year-old had over 100 flying hours under his belt and was soon to become a certified pilot. Asif was also due to marry his daughter in a few months, he said.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) personnel said the plane took off from the Walton airport at around 1:20pm for a one-hour scheduled flight. At around 1:40pm, they lost contact with the plane and were unable to establish communication by radar. Another plane in the area was asked to establish contact but also failed to do so. Liaqat Ali, a CAA official, said that the last communication with the AP-BCS Cessna 150 was made when it was flying over Gaddafi Stadium.
Mazhar Hussain, a Model Town resident, said that the engine halted and he saw the plane plummeting in a spiral. “It restarted just a second before it hit the ground,” he said.
The site of the wreckage was cordoned off and various emergency services and government personnel arrived at the scene, including Model Town security staff, the police, Rescue 1122, the fire brigade, the CAA and District Coordination Officer Ahad Cheema.
CAA officials said that the fact the plane did not catch fire suggested that it was short on fuel.
Rescue 1122 District Officer Dr Ahmad said that both bodies had been removed from the wreckage after cutting into the plane. He said that the wreckage in the house would be removed after the site has been inspected by a team of CAA investigators.
CAA official Abdullah Khalid Laghari said that even if the engine of the plane halted, the pilot could have guided the plane safely back to the Walton airstrip. He said the Hybrid company had a good reputation and had been running since 1998, with two Cessna planes for training and the rest for charter.
He said that out of five operators at Walton, only two trained pilots using seven planes in total. He said that Qureshi was an experienced pilot who had also flown charter planes.
A joint CAA and Pakistan Air Force team arrived at the scene on Thursday night to begin investigations.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.
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