Pakistan plane crash
People stand on a roof of a house amidst debris of a passenger plane, crashed in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan May 22, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: The team of foreign aviation experts and Pakistani investigation team are now en route to France along with the black box of the fatal flight PK8303 to study the cause of the crash. The technical experts from Airbus and France’s BEA air accident investigation agency left the country early Monday after completing their investigation. Work on the flight data and cockpit voice recorders will begin in France on June 2, experts said.

What does the black box contain?

A plane crash usually leaves behind hundreds of unanswered questions and mysteries. The only way to reach for answers is to turn to the airplane’s flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), also known as “black boxes”. FDR contains all of the plane’s crucial information such as airspeed, time, altitude, fuel flow while CVR records the sounds and conversations in the cockpit.

How can the black box analysis help find clues?

The CVR and FDR hold vital clues into the crash that killed all but two of the 99 people on board Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on May 22 in Karachi. The decoding of data, the conversation within the cockpit and with the air traffic controllers, will offer key clues to understand why PK8303 decided to go-around for a second landing approach that ended in a deadly crash. The cockpit voice recorder of the flight was recovered a week after the crash.

PIA crash in numbers
Killed: 97
Survived: 2
Flight number: PK8303

Airbus experts conclude probe at crash site

The 11-member team of experts from Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), Airbus and Safran Engines arrived a week ago to assist Pakistan’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) team. During their stay, the foreign experts inspected the plane debris particularly the aircraft engines and landing gear and took photos and samples for forensic examination. Drone cameras were used for detailed inspection of wreckage spread across the street in Karachi’s densely populated Model Colony. They also reviewed CCTV footage of the landing and surveyed the runway at Karachi Airport as the initial evidence suggested the engines of the airline made contact with the runway in an aborted first landing. The team also studied a complete record of the 16-year-old A320 aircraft.

Pakistan to make air crash report public

Prime Minister Imran Khan has ensured a transparent and impartial investigation into the Karachi plane crash. In a meeting, attended by PIA, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials and ministers, he directed the officials to make all facts and reports public. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the initial investigation report of PIA would be made public on June 22.

Global pilots association urges following international standards

The International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA) has offered its assistance to Pakistan in the probe. Global aviation experts have urged to strictly follow the provision of Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which urges “the sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents” and “not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability”.

Crash opens Pandora’s box

The horrific tragedy that killed 97 has opened a Pandora’s box of questions about the safety issues regarding Pakistan’s national airline that has suffered from alleged mismanagement, nepotism and corruption. As the experts discuss whether it was human factor or technical error that led to the devastating crash, a Boeing report estimated that human error might be a factor in as many as 80 per cent of all air accidents. “It is still too early to conclude as the core piece of investigation, the flight data and cockpit voice recording system, is yet to be decoded. A thorough air crash investigation report takes at least a year”, Fahad ibne Masood, aircraft accident investigator and consultant at Phoenix Aviation Safety Australia, told Gulf News. “Usually after an accident, all efforts are made to save the reputation of the organisation but an independent probe is essential not only because the families of the victims deserve answers but to avoid accidents, ensure aviation safety and save Pakistani airlines from further damage.”

Flight number: PK8303

Aircraft details:

Type: Airbus A320-214

Registration number: AP-BLD

Manufacturer Serial Number: 2274

Total flight hours: 47,100

Engines: CFM56-5B4/P

First flight: 2004

With PIA: since 2014