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Crashed plane’s Pilot didn’t follow ATC’s instructions : CAA

Updated 04 Jun 2020
Security personnel stand beside the wreckage of the Pakistan International Airlines plane that crashed in Karachi on May 22 [Asif Hassan/AFP]
Security personnel stand beside the wreckage of the Pakistan International Airlines plane that crashed in Karachi on May 22 [Asif Hassan/AFP]

In a letter to the PIA’s safety and quality assurance department, CAA said that the duty approach controller had raised a non-compliance report in respect of the pilot of PK-8303. It claimed that the pilot was warned twice about his speed and high altitude for approach but he did not follow.

The letter said that, “ Duty approach controller raised a non-compliance report in respect of captain of PIA flight PK8303 on 22nd May, 2020. PIA flight PK8303 Airbus A320 (aircraft registration AP-BLD) from Lahore to Karachi was cleared to altitude 3000 feet while entering control zone (25 nautical miles) but observed high on approach at MAKLI, the same was communicated to the pilot who reported comfortable for descent. Later at 10 nautical miles pilot was again cautioned by offering an orbit to adjust his high altitude for approach which he did not accept by saying comfortable with descent.”

The letter further said while quoting the approach controller that, "When aircraft was 7 nautical miles final from touchdown Runway 25L, passing 5200 feet, it was relatively high as per the standard approach profile. I instructed pilot twice to discontinue approach and turn left heading 180 which he did not comply and continued to proceed towards Runway 25L with his own discretion to establish Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach Runway 25L. I again warned aircraft at 5 nautical miles from touchdown which was passing 3500 feet. At 4 nautical miles, aircraft was observed approaching 1300 feet with ground speed of 250 knots. Aircraft was observed passing runway threshold at ground speed of 210 knots."

According to CAA, the plane lifted up from the runway and crashed over Model Colony while attempting a second approach for runway 25L.

While commenting on the content of the letter, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) raised serious questions and said that release of limited details about the crash was tantamount to influencing the ongoing investigation. They further raised a question that, why didn’t the approach tower transfer the aircraft to Karachi tower, which could have physically seen if the landing gears were down or not when the pilot came in for first landing.

According to the international standard operating procedures, the approach tower deals with the aircraft from the start of descend till it is five nautical miles and then hands over to local tower (Karachi tower in this case) after the final landing approach has been established. The local tower visually looks at the aircraft for landing gears, etc, and directs the landing. Once on the ground, the pilot is handed over to ground control, which then guides the pilot to parking therefore the question raised by PALPA is also very serious and the CAA must investigate that why didn’t this transfer from the approach frequency to Karachi tower take place.