PIA crash that killed 97 caused by pilots’ 'overconfidence' — preliminary report

Security personnel walk beside the wreckage of a plane at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed in a residential area in Karachi on May 24, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

PIA crash that killed 97 caused by pilots’ 'overconfidence' — preliminary report

  • Aviation minister says there was no technical fault in the plane and the pilots were medically fit to fly
  • Shocks his listeners by telling them that 40 percent of the pilots in the country have fake licenses

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan International Airlines plane crash in Karachi last month, which killed 97 people aboard, was caused by the pilots’ overconfidence and lack of focus, revealed an initial inquiry report into the incident that was unveiled in the National Assembly of Pakistan on Wednesday.
“Several warnings and alerts related to speed, landing gear and ground proximity were disregarded [by the air crew],” said the 21-page report that was shared by the country’s aviation minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, with his colleagues in parliament.
Shortly after the crash, critics and opposition members lambasted Prime Minister Imran Khan and his administration for its failure to improve the national flag carrier’s performance and skills of its technical staff, including pilots. The country has a spotty record of aviation safety, and it has witnessed frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.
The PIA Airbus A320 crashed last month in a densely populated residential neighborhood in Karachi that is situated near the Jinnah International Airport, killing all but two of the 97 people on board. The ill-fated flight PK8303 from Lahore came down about a kilometer short of the runway on its second attempt to land.
“The landing was undertaken with landing gears retracted … Both engines scrubbed the runway at various locations causing damage to both of them,” the inquiry report said.
The minister also revealed on the basis of Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) that the pilots were not focused.
“The pilots were discussing the coronavirus throughout the flight. They were not focused … There was overconfidence,” Khan said.
The minister also blamed the control tower for not pointing out damage to the plane after a botched attempt at landing. “The pilots and the controller failed to follow the standard rules,” he noted.
There was no technical fault in the plane and both the pilots were medically fit to fly, the minister continued, adding that the pilot retracted the landing gears at a distance of five nautical miles from the runway even though they were extended before.
Khan said the plane was on auto-landing, but the pilot disengaged it.
Pakistan has witnessed 12 plane crash incidents since its inception in 1947, and the minister attributed the staggering statistics to the lack of merit within the organization.
“Unfortunately, the degrees of four of our pilots were found bogus while forty percent pilots have fake licenses,” he said while vowing to restructure the national airlines and take action against all those responsible for making “political appointments.”
Pakistan has 860 active pilots while 262 of them did not appear in the exam themselves, revealed the minister, adding that the accountability will be ensured.
“An inquiry has been initiated into the fake licenses of pilots,” Khan added.

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."