In Brief

Plane crashed ‘as distracted pilots discussed Covid fears’

Preliminary report says ‘human error’ to blame for crash in Pakistan that claimed 98 lives

The pilots of a passenger plane that crashed in Karachi last month repeatedly ignored directions from air traffic controllers after getting caught up in a chat about the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Pakistani authorities. 

A preliminary report on the crash says that the two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots repeatedly ignored instructions and warnings from air traffic control that the plane was flying too high on its approach to the runway at Jinnah International Airport, The New York Times reports. 

The pair “also ignored automated warnings in the cockpit and failed to lower the landing gear, causing the plane’s engines to hit the runway”, says the newspaper. 

“The pilot and co-pilot were not focused and throughout they were having a conversation about corona,” Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told the Pakistani parliament’s National Assembly on Wednesday. “The [virus] was on their minds. Their families were affected and they were having a discussion about it.”

The duo failed to follow protocol, said Khan, adding that “the pilot was overconfident”.  

After failing to deploy the plane’s landing gear and scraping the engines, the pilots took off again to make a second landing attempt. 

But according to the investigators’ report, “air traffic controllers failed to inform the pilot that the engines had been left badly damaged”, says the BBC.

Both engines failed as the Airbus A320 turned to attempt a second landing, leading the plane to plummet into a crowded residential area. A total of 98 people were killed in the crash, including a child on the ground, with only two passengers surviving.

Many of the people on the plane, which departed from Lahore, were heading home for the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Fitr.

Pakistan has a chequered aviation safety record. In 2010, an aircraft operated by private airline Airblue crashed near Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.

And in 2016, “a PIA plane burst into flames while travelling from northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing 47 people”, says the BBC.

The latest crash “came days after domestic commercial flights resumed following a two-month coronavirus lockdown”, adds The Guardian.

Recommended

How Omicron compares to other variants of concern
Kent variant
Getting to grips with . . .

How Omicron compares to other variants of concern

What next for Barbados as it becomes a republic?
Prime Minister Mia Mottley on stage
In Depth

What next for Barbados as it becomes a republic?

‘A nationalistic approach to global issues does not work’
Nigel Farage and Donald Trump
Instant Opinion

‘A nationalistic approach to global issues does not work’

The race to test if vaccines hold up against Omicron
Moderna lab
Behind the scenes

The race to test if vaccines hold up against Omicron

Popular articles

Woman diagnosed with ‘climate change’
Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto
Stranger than fiction

Woman diagnosed with ‘climate change’

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life
Vladimir Putin and his now ex-wife Lyudmila Putina
Profile

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life

Trump ‘upset his son won’t say he loves him’
Donald and Barron Trump
Tall Tales

Trump ‘upset his son won’t say he loves him’

The Week Footer Banner