Lost engine, mayday mayday mayday: Pakistan plane pilot to ATC in last communication

The Lahore-Karachi Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 had around 100 people, including crew onboard, when it crashed moments before landing (AFP photo for representation)

The pilot of the ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines flight that crashed today in Karachi indicated moments before the disaster that he was facing problems with the plane’s engines. The pilot communicated this to controllers at the Air Traffic Control at Karachi airport with whom he was in touch (an audio recording and a transcipt of the coversation can be found at the end of this story).

The Lahore-Karachi Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 had around 100 people, including crew onboard. The plane, an Airbus A320, crashed in a residential area just outside the Karachi airport moments before landing on Friday afternoon. Several are feared killed but official word on casualties is awaited.

According to snatches of pilot-ATC communication put out by Pakistani media, the plane reported some sort of engine trouble moments before the crash. The pilot told controllers at the Karachi airport ATC that he had “lost engine”.

Hearing this, the ATC controllers asked the pilot to confirm if he’s carrying out a “belly landing”, i.e. landing without the landing gear extended. After some moments, the pilot is heard putting out a mayday call, which is the highest-level of distress call.

The ATC responded to the pilot by saying “both” runways at the Karachi airport were available for him to land. How — if — the pilot responded is not heard in the reported audio clip of the conversation.

However, PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said in a video message that the pilot had chosen to “go-around”, aviation parlance for aborting a landing the last moment and circling the runway for another attempt. Further investigation is underway, Air Vice Marashal Arshad Malik said.

Here is a transcript of the audio conversation between the pilot of the Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 that crashed in Karachi today and the ATC. Readers must note that it’s not known if this forms the full conversation between the pilot and the ATC.

ATC: …8303, Approach. [This is the ATC calling out to the plane and identifying itself as the approach control]

Pilot: Ji, sir. [Yes, sir]

ATC: Uh, appear to be turning left.

Pilot: Uh, we are proceeding direct, sir, we have lost engine.

ATC: Confirm you are carrying out belly landing?

Pillot: [Inaudible]

[Brief pause]

ATC: … runway available to land at two-five. [Two-five is the runway identifier]

Pilot: Roger.

[Brief pause]

Pilot: Sir, mayday, mayday, mayday, Pakistan 830… 3.

ATC: Pakistan 8303, roger sir, both runways available to land.

— Audio ends —

Listen to the audio here:

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