Pakistani PM pushes for aviation reforms, assures fair probe into PIA crash

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Lahore to Karachi crashes near Karachi Airport (Representative image | Reuters). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

ISLAMABAD, May 29, 2020, Pakistan Today. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that reforms in the aviation sector should be fast-tracked to make air travel safe in the future, and said that all facts of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash would be made public, Pakistan Today reported.

Chairing a high-level meeting, the premier directed the concerned authorities to carry out a thorough probe into the tragic incident and to release the investigation reports of all plane crashes that happened in the past so the people could know the truth about them.

He also directed for provision of all possible facilities and compensation to the families of victims, as well as preparation of a compensation package for all those whose homes and assets were damaged in the crash.

The prime minister was given detailed briefing about the plane crash investigations and hiring the services of local and foreign experts for the purpose.

Expressing deep grief over the loss of precious human lives in the tragic incident and sympathy with the bereaved families of the victims, he said that it was a great tragedy for the nation on the occasion of Eidul Fitr. He added that there was no substitute to human life, but the government still shared the grief of the affected families and would ensure that justice is given to them.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Lieutenant General (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Special Assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Secretary Aviation Division Hassan Nasir Jami, PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Mahmood Malik and other senior officials.


Later, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, while addressing a press conference, said that the government has decided to release the investigation reports of plane crashes of the past on June 22 and no one would be unfairly protected or implicated in the reports which would be laid before the parliament and the public.

He said that the PIA flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed during landing with 99 people on board, out of which two people survived miraculously. He added that 12 to 15 houses were also badly damaged in the tragic incident while cars parked on the street were also burnt.

Talking about identifying the bodies of the victims, he said that this is a very difficult stage. “We are trying to complete DNA testing as soon as possible and so far, 51 bodies have been identified and handed over to their respective families,” he added.

The minister said that the entire nation is eager to know about the reasons behind the tragedy and an 11-member Airbus team is currently investigating the crash. He said that the investigation board has taken possession of everything found at the crash site and everything would be revealed once the equipment is decoded in France. He added that the board will investigate everything and if there was any technical fault in the plane then it would be brought on record.

Responding to a question, he said the investigation would find out that if the plane had landed once who gave the orders for another take off. He urged the people to wait for the investigation board’s report.

The minister said that PM Imran had expressed displeasure over the delay in investigation report and had asked why they were never released on time. He added that in light of his decision, the government would release the investigation reports of all 12 incidents.

Responding to the opposition’s criticism, he said that those who criticise the government now should tell the public what action they took when a plane had crashed in 2010. He added that unlike the previous governments, the incumbent government would make the investigation report public.

The minister said that pilot of the ill-fated plane was “our respected brother” and assured his family that an inquiry would be conducted in a transparent manner. Any interference in the report is out of the question, he added.

In response to another question, he said that there are standard operating procedures (SOPs) for crash landing. If the landing gear does not open, the pilot requests crash landing, however the pilot did not mention that the failure of landing gear and he did not request an emergency landing either, he added.

“We have tried to include representatives from various departments to analyse each aspect of the case closely. We have also included psychiatrists in the team to monitor the otherwise negligible details in the case, for instance, the psychological state of the pilot while he was on the flight,” he said.

He further said that the investigation board would find out the answers to technical questions.

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