Bhoja Air tragedy: CDA chairman flies to China after being booked

Published: April 24, 2012
The Bhoja Air crash on April 20 claimed 127 lives. PHOTO: FILE

The Bhoja Air crash on April 20 claimed 127 lives. PHOTO: FILE


In a bizarre chain of events following the Bhoja Air crash, the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) flew to China hours after being booked by the Capital police for illegally keeping both the black box and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) at his “home for 24 hours”.

Farkhand Iqbal – who spearheaded the rescue operation – was booked after the authorities found that he had taken the black box and CVR of the crashed plane to his house and planned to present them to the investigation team during a press conference, sources in Islamabad Capital Administration (ICT) revealed.

“The CDA chairman has gone to China,” confirmed Ramzan Sajid, CDA’s spokesperson. Sources said the trip had been scheduled a month before in connection with a conference.

International civil aviation rules stipulate that the black box and CVR of crashed flights must be preserved in a dry container to secure the data from possible moisture.

Unaware of the finer points governing aviation rules, the CDA chairman took both the flight recorders of the crashed plane – which killed all the 127 people onboard on Friday – to his house without lawful authority, prompting authorities to take action against him.

“Told you so”

Exasperated at the government’s failure to launch an inquiry into the airworthiness of all public and private aircraft, Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said if court orders during the Airblue case were followed the Bhoja Air crash could have been avoided.

At a hearing of several cases on Monday, Justice Khan expressed his dissatisfaction at the country’s domestic aviation sector and said: “Our orders were defied, but if they had been followed, dozens of innocent lives could have been saved.”

It appears that the chief justice was not actually hearing any cases related to either the Airblue or the Bhoja Air tragedies, but decided to take up the issue with the government’s lawyers on what was the first working day of the court in the wake of the latest crash.

Justice Khan reminded the government that in the aftermath of the Airblue crash, the PHC had ordered the defence ministry to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the flying capacity of all planes in the domestic aviation sector within 90 days — an order that the government pleaded unconvincingly that it had complied with.

“Not even a single step has so far been taken. What is the government doing?” asked the chief justice. “Those orders were meant to prevent incidents like these [Bhoja Air crash].”

‘Temporarily suspended’

Following the directives issued by the defence ministry which seeks “to conduct shakedown checks of all passenger planes”, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ‘temporarily’ suspended Bhoja Air’s operations by launching an inspection of all private air fleets.

Officials on Monday confirmed to The Express Tribune that Bhoja Air cannot operate its planes until it gets clearance from the Airworthiness Directorate of the CAA.

“The CAA will complete Bhoja planes’ shakedown inspections first. Bhoja Air will continue its operation after getting checks of all its fleet (three passenger planes) successfully,” CAA spokesperson Pervez George told The Express Tribune.

(with addtional reporting by Umer Farooq in peshawar)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Atif Razzaq
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:03AM

    Being a Pakistani, our demands are only and only JUSTICE in all fields, then all other things will be go in the right direction provided true Justice will be done.


  • Caution
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:41AM

    He didn’t want anyone else to steal his thunder!!


  • AG
    Apr 24, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Nawaz Sharif came up with a marketing slogan in the 90’s to attract investors, “Pakistan- A Land of Infinite Possibilities.”

    I am beginning to understand what he actually meant. Anything can happen in this country….


  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:24AM

    It is a lawless country, what do you expect? We are fortunate that at least it was found. Now it will take 5 years to investtogate and another 5 to write a comprehensive report and recommendations and another 5 to act upon them if need be.


  • Anserali Khan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:49AM

    This guy should be removed from his present posting and charged with a big fine.
    Incompetence is one of the biggest problems of Pakistan and I have been proved right once again


  • JS
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:24PM

    Does anyone want to bet that Mr. Farkhand Iqbal – Chairman CDA was ordered through the grapevine by Mr. Arshad Jalil (80% owner of Bhoja and an aircraft maintenance company for Boeing 737s) to do everything in his power to find and secure the Black Box and Cockpit Voice not let anyone else have access to it and to await further instructions……


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:32PM

    This is quite amazing if true.


  • Apr 24, 2012 - 1:49PM

    China must be the new UK. Harboring corrupt like UK used to do.


  • Much Amused
    Apr 24, 2012 - 2:51PM

    Is there no end to the buffoonery of these civil servants???


  • xvz
    Apr 25, 2012 - 9:48AM

    Isn’t that Standard Operating Procedure in TSP – hose down the crime scene and clear it of all incriminating evidence!


  • Nadeem Sarfraz
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:28PM

    There is an interesting piece of information provided by a PML(N) leaders on Capital Talk a couple of days back while defending the point that the airline license to Bhoja was given my Mr. Nawaz Sharif during his stint as PM. I personally agree with an open skies policy and it was a good initiative. But listen to what he said of Mr. Bhoja, who got the license: “…both these brothers (the Bhojas) made tall claims and I warned them not to tell lies… they would come to [the airport], together on a Suzukai van, use it at the airport for work and drive back home in the evening on the same van…” while describing them.

    A big question, if this is what describes their stature, financial and otherwise, how could they get a license to set up an airline??


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