“The lack of professionalism in the cockpit crew along with poor weather as primary factors in the crash”.

The scares of PK 8303 weren’t healed and yet we struck by the anniversary of 28th July 2010, Airblue Flight 202 crashed in Margala Hills, Islamabad. The question is: what are Pakistani regulators doing to ensure that this tragedy will never happen again. The answer to this, not much.

In ten years many things could be changed if a country is deter to make changes. After Airblue we bore the 2012 Bhoja air crash, followed by the PIA ATR crash in Havelian and PK 8303 in 2020. Even though the decade of 2020 has gotten off to a pretty terrible start for Pakistani airlines.

On 28 July 2010, Airblue A321 domestic passenger flight takeoff from Karachi en route to Islamabad. However, the flight crashed near Islamabad in Margala Hills. All 152 souls on board died in this fatal crash.

Airblue Flight 202

The Captain of the aircraft was Captain Pervez Iqbal Chaudhary. The ill-fated aircraft took-off from Karachi for Islamabad. The aircraft approached Islamabad from the southeast, following a procedure that required it to fly toward the airport until making visual contact. It was then to have flown around the airport to the east and north, keeping within a distance of 5 nm, until lining up with runway 12, which faces toward the southeast. The aircraft crashed in the mountains outside the 5 nm radius, approximately 8nm north of the airport, facing almost due west, before it could line up with runway 12 for the final approach.

Multiple EGPWS “TERRAIN AHEAD” warnings were recorded on the Cockpit Voice Recorder starting 40 seconds before the crash. The first officer was requesting captain “Sir turn left, Pull Up Sir. Sir pull Up. Likewise, the Islamabad control tower didn’t give any warning to the crew of anything wrong.

One witness on the ground stated that “the plane had lost balance, and then we saw it going down”

“I wondered why the plane wasn’t flying higher as it was flying towards the hill”, another witness stated.

The weather conditions nineteen minutes after the accident, a detailed METER published for Benazir international airport. as below:

Wind from 90° (east) at 18 knots (33 km/h). Visibility 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi; 1.9 nmi), rain, scattered clouds at 1,000 feet (300 m), few clouds at 3,000 feet (910 m) overcast at 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Temperature 25 °C, dewpoint 24 °C. QNH 1006.9 hPa.

Pakistani rescue workers search the wreckage of a crashed passenger plane in the Margalla Hills on the outskirts of Islamabad. Via (NPR.org)

Investigation

Captain of Airblue 202 violated the prescribed Circling Approach procedure for RWY12 by descending below MDA 2,300 ft instead of maintaining 2,510 ft, losing visual contact with the airfield and instead resorting to fly the non-standard self-created PBD based approach, thus transgressing out of protected airspace of a maximum of 4.3 NM into Margallas and finally collided with the hills.

First Officer of simply remained a spectator in the cockpit and did not participate as an effective team member failing to compliment or to correct the errors of his captain assertively in line with the teachings of CRM due to Captain’s behavior in the flight.

ATC and the Radar controllers were preoccupied with bad weather and the traffic. The air traffic controller lost visual contact with Air Blue flight 202. They sought Radar help on the landline (the ATC does not have a Radarscope). The radar controller having cleared aircraft to change frequency to ATC.

Sensing the gravity of the situation and on seeing the aircraft still heading towards the hills. The Radar controller asked the ATCO on landline “Confirm he has visual contact with the ground. If not, then ask him to immediately climb, and make him execute missed approach”.

The aircrew primarily caused the crash. They violated all established procedures for a visual approach for RWY12 and ignored several calls by ATS Controllers and EGPWS system (21 warnings related to approaching rising terrain and PULL UP). In their pursuit to land in inclement weather, they committed serious violations of procedures and breaches of flying discipline, which put the aircraft in an unsafe condition over dangerous terrain at low altitudes.

To read Flight 202 AAIB Final Investigation Reports (click here).

Lastly, Planes will start flying again regularly. When they do, they’ll come back down the way they’re supposed too – “without any incident”.

Source: AAIB Final report, Wikipedia

Read more: Remembering Malaysian Airlines 17 – The Worst Shot Down in The World’s History

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