Black boxes from crashed Pakistan jet head to France for analysis

Volunteers look for survivors of a plane that crashed in residential area of Karachi on May 22, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Black boxes from crashed Pakistan jet head to France for analysis

  • French agency is involved in the Pakistan-led probe because the crashed A320 was designed by France-based Airbus
  • A320 operated by PIA crashed short of the runway on May 22, killing 97 people on board

PARIS/KARACHI: Air crash investigators were en route from Pakistan to France on Monday with two ‘black box’ flight recorders of a Pakistani airliner that crashed in a residential area while trying to land in the port city of Karachi last month, airport officials said.
An Airbus test plane, unusually commissioned to transport the boxes because of disruption from the coronavirus crisis, was due to arrive on Monday afternoon at Le Bourget near Paris where France’s BEA air accident agency was standing by to open them.
The French agency is involved in the Pakistan-led probe because the crashed A320 was designed by France-based Airbus, and is additionally carrying out the crucial task of decoding the recorders because it has state-of-the-art equipment.
The A320 operated by Pakistan International Airlines crashed short of the runway on May 22, killing 97 people on board after the pilots reported the loss of both engines.
Two passengers survived and there were no reports of casualties on the ground. The crash site remained sealed off on Monday.
BEA experts are expected to open and download information from the boxes — one containing cockpit voice recordings and the other aircraft data — on Tuesday, subject to the recording chips being intact inside their crash-resistant shells.
Initial reports suggested the jetliner scraped its engines along the runway on a first attempt to land following what appeared to be an unstable approach, arriving steep and fast.
Investigators will analyze the cockpit data to try to understand whether damage to the engines from the first landing attempt caused them to cut out before the second attempt, leaving the airplane unable to make it to the airport perimeter.
Experts warn it is too early to say what caused the crash.
In Karachi, as officials continued to try to identify victims’ bodies using DNA samples, families took to social media to voice their grief at not being able to perform the last rites of their loved ones.
The airline said on Sunday problems in identifying victims were caused by delays in DNA identification outside its control. 


Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

Updated 05 July 2020

Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

  • King Salman on Sunday approved a free three-month extension of expired residency permits, and exit and reentry visas of expatriates
  • Pakistan envoy to Saudi Arabia hails ‘positive and welcoming step’ by Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: More than 40,000 Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the royal order to extend by three months and without charge, the validity of expired residency permits and exit and reentry visas, Pakistan’s ambassador to the Kingdom, Raja Ali Ejaz, told Arab News on Sunday.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Sunday approved the extension in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on expats working in Saudi Arabia.

Under the order, the residency permits and visas of expats inside the Kingdom of which the validity expired during the period of suspension of entry and exit from Saudi Arabia, will be extended for a period of three months free of cost. The validity of final exit visas, unused exit and return visas for expats will also be extended.

“More than 40,000 Pakistani expatriates will benefit from this facility,” Ambassador Ejaz said.

“It is a positive and welcoming step by Saudi Arabia that they have given three months’ extension in almost every relevant visa related issue for expatriates.”

He added around 15,000 Pakistani expats inside the Kingdom and over 25,000 who had traveled back to Pakistan, would be facilitated by the extension.

“There were many Pakistanis who went back on leave and could not come back after the suspension of flights due to coronavirus,” he continued. 

“When they come back here [Saudi Arabia] to rejoin their work, their visas will be valid so they will not face any trouble.”

Furthermore, Ejaz said Pakistanis whose visas had expired but they had been unable to leave due to the limited availability of flights would also be beneficiaries, as the Saudi government had extended their final exit visas as well.

The extension facility will come into place free of cost-- a source of financial relief, Ejaz said, for the majority of Pakistani workers in unskilled labor positions.

Pakistan currently has more than 2.5 million expats living in Saudi Arabia, and makes up the country’s biggest overseas community. 

According to Pakistan’s central bank data, Saudi Arabia has consistently remained for years Pakistan’s largest source of remittances.