Islamabad: Pakistan’s Minister for Civil Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Wednesday presented the preliminary report on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash before the National Assembly, where he accused the pilots of being ‘overconfident.
The domestic flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed in a residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on May 22.
The Airbus A320 aircraft had 91 passengers and a crew of eight when it crashed in the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, minutes before landing. One girl on the ground also died after suffering burn injuries.
Two passengers miraculously survived the crash.
A probe was ordered by the government with the commitment that the initial report would be shared with Parliament on June 22.
Based on the initial report, Khan held the pilot, the cabin crew, and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) responsible for the plane crash which resulted in the deaths of 97 out of 99 persons on board the flight, the Express Tribune reported.
“The pilot and the ATC did not follow the procedure. The plane was 100 percent okay,” said the minister, eliminating the possibility of technical faults in the aircraft.
Khan added that the pilots were not “focused” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the last half hour, the pilots’ discussion was about coronavirus, they were not focused as their families were affected,” said the Minister, adding that the pilot and co-pilot were both fit and experienced.
The final report on the crash will be presented in one year, added the Aviation Minister.
In the past 72 years, there have been 12 such incidents, said Khan. No investigation report was issued, no one knew who was responsible, admitted the minister in the National Assembly.
He also assured the House that the government would not privatize Pakistan International Airlines. Instead, it will be “restructured” and the government would take it back to its glory days.
However, the minister told the Lower House, that out of the total 860 pilots in Pakistan, 262 pilots did not sit for the exams. Someone else sat in the exams for them, he claimed. Based on this, Khan said, 40 percent of licenses are “fake”, and the pilots don’t have the required flying experience.
According to the aviation minister, people have been inducted based on fake degrees, or appointed on a political basis, with merit being ignored.
He elaborated that an inquiry has been initiated in this regard, and show-cause notices have been issued to 54 pilots. “Some of the pilots have also challenged these notices in court. Thus far, nine pilots have confessed to holding fake degrees,” he claimed.