Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL) on Tuesday disclosed that the root cause of the crash of ATR plane on its way from Chitral to Islamabad is unknown and apparently aircraft experienced engine failure/trouble, followed by more anomalies, forming a chain and ended up in a fatal crash.
In a brief submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, the PIA said that the safety recommendations will be investigated and proposed by the Safety Investigation Board (SIB).
Chitral airfield has been provided regular air transport service by the PIA since long, but due to the terrain surrounding the airfield and en route, it is a requirement from the flight operations department to familiarise crew with the terrain and the route to be flown, before they can act as operating crew for sectors to and from the airfield. Hence, first officer occupying the observer’s seat was on a route familiarisation sortie.
Aircraft had operated several sectors before the accident sector and this was the last sector of the operating crew, back to base Islamabad. At this stage much of information cannot be made available due to fact that investigation is being conducted by the SIB and the PIA is not part of the constitution of the board members of the investigation, the PIA said.
“Known information that has been received and that may not be very legitimate as aircraft PK-661 reported position TIPOM to Islamabad ATC and radar contact was confirmed by ATC, aircraft squawking 2022 (radar identification code) and 38 miles North-West of Islamabad.
“One minute and fifty two (00:01:52) seconds (approximately) from the first call at position TIPOM, aircraft declared ‘Loosing One Engine’ along with’ May Day’ call. “ATC directed PK-661 to set direct course to RN (ISB) and position was identified by ATC 33 miles North West heading east.
“During the course of aircraft descending, radar contact was lost and in the later stages of the event, communication anomalies also developed. Second ‘May Day’ call was communicated three minutes and thirty one seconds (00:03:31) after the first ‘May Day’ call, ‘priority landing’ was also requested by PK-661.
The aircraft crashed in the mountainous terrain area near the village of Havelian , which was east of the route intended to be flown, the PIA concluded.
“Aircraft was totally destroyed and all occupants were perished in the fatal crash”. The findings also revealed that the crew was qualified to operate the flight. It was a routine passenger flight during which a route familiarisation was being conducted for the third occupant (first officer on 3rd seat). Aircraft was loaded within limits.