Final report on PIA A320 crash in Karachi released

A PIA A320 approaches to land.
Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Board has now released its Final Report into the fatal crash of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320.

The accident under investigation took place near Jinnah International Airport on 22 May 2020.

Accident Details

On 22nd May, 2020 a PIA Airbus A320-214 aircraft registered AP-BLD, took off from Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) Lahore, Pakistan to perform a regular commercial passenger flight (PIA 8303) to JIAP Karachi, Pakistan.

 Onboard were 8 crew members, the Captain, First Officer (FO) and 6 flight attendants, and 91 passengers.

At 09:15:38 UTC, descent for approach was initiated. The flight was cleared for an Instrument Landing System (ILS) Approach Runway (R/W) 25L.

Aircraft altitude was around 9,000 feet (ft) instead of 3,000 ft at 15 Nautical Mile (NM) from touchdown. Speed brakes and landing gear were extended. The aircraft was significantly above the published vertical approach path.

Around 5 NM from the touchdown, both speed brakes and landing gears were retracted.

Several warnings, cockpit indications and Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions were disregarded by flight crew and the unstabilized approach was continued.

At 09:34:28 UTC, aircraft touched almost 4,500 ft down RWY 25L with undercarriage retracted. Flight crew initiated a go-around. Both engines were damaged during the contact with the R/W.

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The resultant loss of engine oil and subsequent lack of lubrication then resulted in failure of both engines.

Around 2,000 ft, flight crew announced that they have lost engines, followed by a MAYDAY call. As a result, the aircraft started to lose height and crashed in a populated area 1,340 meters short of RWY 25L.

Out of the 99 persons on-board, 97 were fatally injured whereas 2 passengers survived. On the ground, 4 persons were injured, and one passed away later in the hospital.

Analysis of Aircraft, Crew and Ground Equipment

The aircraft was completely destroyed as a result of the accident. All onboard navigational systems were serviceable and no technical anomaly was documented before the accident.

Similarly, ground-based navigation facilities at the departure and destination aerodromes were fully functional during the event flight.

The aircraft was serviceable and flight worthy at the day of accident. There was no Minimum Equipment List (MEL) or other system related entry at the time of departure which could have contributed to the accident.

Both Captain and FO were reported fit to undertake the scheduled flight as per medical records. Post-mortem of both the flight crew was performed by Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Karachi.

Forensic toxicology analysis report did not indicate influence of drugs, volatiles or intoxication of both flight crew.

The CVR recording did not reveal medical anomaly or incapacitation of both flight crew prior to the end of flight.

Report Findings

Primary Causes of PIA A320 Crash

The Report found the following primary causes of the accident:

  • Aircraft made a ‘gear up’ landing where both engine nacelles made contact with the runway.
  •  Both Engines were damaged causing loss of engine oil and lubrication which resulted in failure of both engines during Go-Around.
  • Non-adherence to SOPs and disregard of ATC instructions during the event flight.
  • Lack of communication between the ATC and the flight crew regarding Gears Up landing particularly once aircraft was on the R/W.

Contributing Causes

The following contributing causes were also identified:

  • Ineffective implementation of FDA programme.
  • FDA regulatory oversight programme was ineffective in producing sufficient and timely improvement.
  • Lack of clear and precise regulations to restrict flying while flight crew fasting.
  • Inadequate level of CRM (Crew Resource Management) application during the event flight.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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