An A320 of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) crashed in the Model Colony neighbourhood of Karachi, while approaching for landing at Quaid-e-Azam International Airport on May 22. Eighty-nine passengers and eight crew members on board died in the crash while two passengers survived miraculously.
It has been six days since the incident happened and with each passing day, the doubts and the number of questions being raised regarding the investigation are increasing and unfortunately hardly any questions are being answered by the airline’s spokesman which has unfortunately led to the creation of many conspiracy theories and also the information which is being conveyed seems to be conveyed without confirmation. The act of information being disseminated by the airline officials without any confirmation is irresponsible and is leading to the development of cover up and conspiracy theories. One such example is the news of the recovery of the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder(CVR). The news about recovering the CVR was given today via the airline’s official Twitter handle. However the same news was given by the airline’s spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan five days back according to one of his statements published in Reuters which said, “The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesman Abdullah Khan said, clarifying that both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found.”
The next day, the same announcement was disowned by the airline and they said that efforts are being done to recover the CVR. Now this contradiction in both the announcements has given air to conspiracy theories. Sources within the airline are hinting towards a very unfortunate scenario, according to reliable airline sources speaking to BR on condition of anonymity, the CVR was hidden after being recovered initially but as soon as the news of the CVR being stolen or being hidden got viral, a recovery operation was staged and claimed that the CVR has been found from underneath the debris of the crashed aircraft.
The question over here comes that why would’ve someone hide the CVR. The answer to this question is the importance of the Cockpit Voice Recorder in this particular investigation where the reason of the crash is said to be a pilot error.
Independent experts and observers who wished to remain anonymous have raised a few points about the importance of the CVR due to which an act of hiding after recovering it initially might’ve occurred.
As per them, the flight data recorder(FDR) tells about the actions that happened during the flight, but if the data of the FDR is pieced together with the added data of CVR, one can also pin point why it happened and tell about the background of the actions. It is said that the aircraft was high and fast, the question rises that is it because the cockpit crew was distracted due to strenuous talking in the cockpit - which is against the sterile cockpit rule, was there an unauthorised guest in the cockpit (which is again a violation of rules) and one more possible question is that was there any other technical fault in the aircraft which distracted the pilots from focusing on the flight. In any case, if there are failings in the cockpit environment, CVR will help to lay out firm recommendations based on solid evidence so that those recommendations can be followed in the future in order to avoid such incidents.
For a detailed and complete investigation to take place, the investigators will need the recordings of the cockpit in order to determine the cockpit’s environment which is impossible without the CVR.
Without the CVR the investigators can only do a guess work based on their experience and laid practices which will not help the airline in reaching the root cause of the incident. CVR will boldly clear out a lot of questions and will be a key piece to lay out safety recommendations.
While speaking to some pilots of the airline who also wished to remain anonymous, when the question was asked about the possibility of the recovery of the CVR being staged. They refused to comment on it but they said that they’re happy that the CVR has been found but they have their apprehensions about the fact that reports of the CVR first being found and then being not found and stolen surfaced on the media. They’ve raised serious concerns about this and expect their concerns to be addressed by the airline.
Whatever maybe the case, these doubts about the recovery of the CVR being staged raises some serious questions about the investigation due to the past events and statements connected to this issue and also due to the CVR’s importance as well . The airline must answer these questions in order to satisfy all the stakeholders and to maintain the credibility of the investigation going on to probe the reasons behind this unfortunate incident.