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Old 21st April 2012, 16:27   #1
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Default Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

Just happened to read this on the net.

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A passenger plane carrying 127 people crashed in stormy weather and burst into flames while approaching Pakistan's Islamabad airport Friday evening. There were no reports of survivors.
The commercial airliner, Bhoja Air 737, on its maiden flight, was descending for landing when it crashed a few miles from Islamabad airport, near Chaklala airbase, Rawalpindi.
There were 118 passengers and nine crew on-board. However, some reports say there were 131 people on board.
The B4-213 was coming from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad when it crashed into a residential area.
The Bhoja Airlines' officials said that the plane was scheduled to land at the Islamabad airport at 6.45 p.m.. The plane had left Karachi airport at 5 p.m., Xinhua reported.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) said that the crash was apparently due to bad weather.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy and ordered investigation into the incident, Geo News reported.
According to rescuers, the wreckage area - around one sq km - was scattered with mangled bodies, severed body parts, burnt luggage, and parts of the fuselage strewn all over.
Local residents said they could see flame rising from the crash site.
An emergency was declared at hospitals in Islamabad and nearby Rawalpindi city and rescue teams and ambulances were rushed to the site.
Saifur Rehman, from a police rescue team, said the plane came down in Hussain Abad village, two miles from the main Islamabad highway.
According to sources in the CAA, the flight was given clearance to land at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport, but it lost contact with the control tower minutes before the crash.
"Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage was on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We came with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming," Rehman told Geo television.
A local resident told Geo News, the plane was already on fire in the midair and seemed like a ball of fire coming at us.
The plane fell on top of houses in the village toppling building before hitting the ground, said eyewitnesses, but there were no reports of people on the village dying.
According to Geo News, Bhoja Airlines had reportedly bought the 27.4 years old aircraft from Shaheen Airlines after it was scrapped by the latter for its compromised flight-worthiness.
Bhoja Airline officials have not commented.
President Zardari has ordered that a chartered plane be arranged to bring relatives of the crash victims to Islamabad.
Guys, whoever travels to Pakistan, please avoid taking Bhoja Airlines (read the underlined para above).

May their souls rest in peace.

Link - Pakistani plane with 127 on board crashes, no survivors - Yahoo! News India
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Old 21st April 2012, 18:00   #2
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

The age of the aircraft cannot be the cause ; we see even older airplanes than this fly in the US.

Hope the investigation brings out the real issues.
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Old 21st April 2012, 18:16   #3
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

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The age of the aircraft cannot be the cause ; we see even older airplanes than this fly in the US.

Hope the investigation brings out the real issues.
Not entirely true. All airlines proclaim their average age before they are granted Aircraft Operating Permit / Certificate of airworthiness for each aircraft. Of course, this could be a case of undercutting maintenance.
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Old 21st April 2012, 18:57   #4
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

I heard in the news that this airline had stopped its operations a few years back and re-started it only last month (or early this month). So, if not age, then probably it's poor maintenance of the aircraft that has caused this accident.
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Old 21st April 2012, 19:19   #5
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

It's not the chronological age of the aircraft alone that matters. Time is important from stress and corrosion perspective, but flight hours is the main one , how many flight hours the jet had logged. 30 year old commercial planes used to be common, until recently when due to rising fuel costs airlines now tend to change fleets earlier for more fuel efficient planes. A 737 would have accumulated a lot of hours and a lot of landings ; an aircraft with 100,000 hours and say 20000 landings is likely to be in better shape than the same model with 100,000 hours and say 40000 landings.

That this plane was de-comissioned going to be scrapped, should not have been sold at all , I reckon FAA/ICAO has some regulations on selling/leasing planes which should cover such scenarios.
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Old 21st April 2012, 19:33   #6
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

Not only the age of the plane and its air worthiness, but the skill level of the pilot is also to be understood in this case. When I recently travelled from Zurich to Doha, just minutes before landing the plane was caught in a terrible storm and after many futile attempts to land was finally re-directed to Bahrain. It was the skill of the pilot that saved the day for all of us (it was a hair raising moment when all the passengers gave the pilot a standing ovation on landing safely at doha!) The reason that I say this is, encountering bad weather is quite a common thing as far as flying is concerned, and that's where the pilot's skill, expertise and training comes into picture.

May the departed souls RIP, it pains a lit for frequent travellers like me when I read about these accidents.
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Old 21st April 2012, 20:07   #7
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

^^ +1 to that Bala.

My experience has been that American pilots are excellent at handling rough weather, because it is quite normal to have abrupts changes in weather (and hurricane Katrinas and Kareenas ) there.

My worst experiences in rough weather conditions have been with some Indigo pilots on the Mumbai-Chennai-Mumbai sector.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 07:33   #8
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

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Originally Posted by 00nuts001 View Post
Not entirely true. All airlines proclaim their average age before they are granted Aircraft Operating Permit / Certificate of airworthiness for each aircraft. Of course, this could be a case of undercutting maintenance.
What you have said about undercutting in maintenance is probably the reason, since as per the news report in the thread, the aircraft was on fire in mid-air. I have been in this business for sometime now; the problem is that in most Asian countries, we believe in the 'Jugaad' culture. With cost cutting measures, there is a tendency to get cheap repairs done. In the US, the culture is 'Repair by Replacement', i.e. when an aircraft component goes bad, remove it and install a new one. That is why, one see 30 year old aircraft and having flogged multiple thousands of hours still flying. In most cases, skill of the pilot comes into question only during take-off and landing phases and, of course, if there is an emergency in the air.

Pilots are more 'cockpit managers' these days. With advancements in technology, hands-on flying is a thing of the past.

Having said that, my heartfelt condolence to the bereaved families of the passengers and crew.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 20:04   #9
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

Fastest way to become a 'millionaire' from a 'biilionaire' is to start an airline. I think this saying was coined by Ric Branson (Virgin Airlines). I think on the way to getting there people become desperate and start cutting corners, leading to such accidents. Today's news item says Bhoja has been detained by police and his passport ceased till futher enquiry. Seems the 737-200 was 30 years old.

Last edited by Durango Dude : 22nd April 2012 at 20:06.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 21:02   #10
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

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Originally Posted by Durango Dude View Post
Seems the 737-200 was 30 years old.
27 years to be exact. Apart from being very old, 737-200s have been banned in many countries due to loud noise of those old JT-9D engines. The 737-200 that crashed bore registration no. AP-BKC and had used to belong to British Airways when it was brand new.
ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-236 AP-BKC Islamabad-Benazir Bhutto International Airport

The Ill fated aircraft:
Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board-6886050741_18de1bf05f_b.jpg

It seems windshear was the cause of the crash. The eye witness accounts of the aircraft behaviour in its final moments is consistent with loss of control due to windshear and the crash is quite similar to Delta Airlines Flight 191, a L1011, that crashed on approach to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 1985. Those who used to watch Air Crash Investigations on Nat Geo would recall this incident(Delta Air Lines Flight 191 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

Sad incident. May the poor souls RIP, must have been quite horrific for them.

Flying in bad weather, strong winds and low visibility can be quiet scary. Its been mentioned somewhere that neither the aircraft nor the airport was equipped with windshear detection systems.

Unfortunately, the true cause of the crash may never come out. Those fools from Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority still have't been able to find out the cause of the Air Blue A321 crash near the same airport.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 09:29   #11
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Originally Posted by skanchan95 View Post
Unfortunately, the true cause of the crash may never come out. Those fools from Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority still have't been able to find out the cause of the Air Blue A321 crash near the same airport.
But then, as I've learnt from Nat Geo's Air Crash Investigation, NTSB gets involved in the investigation if the crash plane is made in US. Even Boeing engineers will be involved.

The incident you've mentioned is with Airbus. So, there was no experts' involvement I guess.

Also, Boeing and Airbus have opposing theories about fly-by-wire system. Boeing believes that pilot is the ultimate decision maker, and its plane computer only assists the pilot.

However, Airbus has designed its computers such that the software can ignore some of pilot's commands under emergencies.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 13:47   #12
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But then, as I've learnt from Nat Geo's Air Crash Investigation, NTSB gets involved in the investigation if the crash plane is made in US. Even Boeing engineers will be involved.
Then there's some hope I guess. I just think the Pakis are incompetent in finding out the true cause on their own. Pilot error seems unlikely as the captain was an old, experienced pilot and the first officer was a former PAF Squadron Leader and a F-16 pilot.

The stupidity of the Pakis further gets exposed further with the fact that they have(or wanted) to arrest the CEO of Bhoja Air, inspite of initial indications that the aircraft went out of control because of bad weather and the pilots did not have sufficient altitude to recover. What was the CEO to do if his aircraft got caught up in bad weather? It would be like arresting CEO of AIX for the Mangalore 738 crash. Thank heavens the Pakis haven't blamed India for the accident

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However, Airbus has designed its computers such that the software can ignore some of pilot's commands under emergencies.
Wasn't this the safety feature that resulted in the Air France A320 crash during an airshow in the 90s ? Quite stupid IMHO.

Last edited by skanchan95 : 23rd April 2012 at 13:50.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 15:54   #13
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Default Re: Plane crash in Pakistan - Kills 127 on board

OMG, this sounds close to what Alliance Air was doing in India in the 90s.
They were refurbishing the discarded planes from Indian Airlines.

I hope there are no such stories happening today in Indian airspace!
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Old 23rd April 2012, 16:16   #14
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Wasn't this the safety feature that resulted in the Air France A320 crash during an airshow in the 90s ? Quite stupid IMHO.
Probably, but they could not prove it. There was a contraversy about the blackboxes themselves. The photographs taken at the crash site showed brand new covers, but the blackboxes photographed at the lab later were faded.

Also, that captain's claim that the engines took some 21 seconds to respond to his full throttle command (against the usual 5 odd seconds) got some credibility after some independent investigation. He claims even now, that he was framed for some bug in the fly-by-wire system!
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Old 4th June 2012, 08:14   #15
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Quote:

ISLAMABAD:
The decoded black box of the ill-fated Bhoja Air B737-200 arrived from the United States this week, to carry forward investigations into the crash that killed 127 people last month on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the investigation team is currently transcribing the decoded information. A special Boeing team is also likely to arrive in the country in the next three days.

Meanwhile, investigators recorded statements of officials present at the control tower at the time of the crash, sources said.

They added that the statement of the on-duty staff officer at the Radar tower, Mukhtar, who was suspected of failing to convey the loss of altitude to the aircraft’s captain, was also recorded.

Earlier investigations revealed that the plane dropped to 2,000 feet, whereas 2,800 feet is required for safe landing.

Some officials of the CAA, who claimed to have knowledge of ongoing investigations, said the aircraft was brought down by a weather phenomenon called ‘downdraft’.

“Both pilots panicked on entering the downdraft and failed to take emergency measures to prevent a crash,”
said the officials. However, an aviation expert rejected the claim, saying a pilot is taught to avoid Cumulonimbus (CB) clouds. Once he gets into it, he cannot do much to avoid a crash, he added.
The expert agreed that the crash might have been caused by a weather phenomenon but it could be ‘microburst’ instead of ‘downdraft’
.
Downdraft is a small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks towards the ground, usually accompanied by precipitation – a shower or thunderstorm; however, microburst is a similar weather condition present in CB clouds. It lasts from 30-90 seconds and has a radius of over two kilometres, the expert explained.
He further said that pilots, anywhere in the world, are told to avoid CB clouds, which are indicated by radars in the aircraft. The Boeing 737 in Pakistani companies, including PIA, might not have advanced Doppler radars that provide actual wind patterns. However, every aircraft has weather radars that indicate the presence of CB clouds.
“It may be possible that the weather radars in Bhoja Air B737-200 were either completely out of order or their coordinates were out,” said the expert. In both cases, the pilot would have failed to detect the CB cloud and entered a microburst.
“Once into the CB cloud, you (pilot) can do nothing but recite Kalma,” he added.
Meanwhile, the local police again contacted the management of Bhoja Air at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) for details about the aircraft and the company’s stakeholders to pursue criminal investigations into the case.
The company management has sought two days for a reply to the queries, said police officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.
Bhoja Air crash: Decoded black box arrives – The Express Tribune

If the crash was indeed caused by microburst, there probably wasn't enough altitude for the pilots to recover. This may be quite similar to the Delta Airlines Flight 191 crash in the mid 80s, where the L1011 crashed on final approach,brought down by microburst induced windshear.
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