France Airbus experts begin probe into PIA plane crash in Karachi

An 11-member team of technical experts of Airbus aerospace company visited the Jinnah International Airport here and inspected the runway, air traffic control tower and radar control station as part of its initial investigation into the PIA air crash involving its aircraft that killed 97 people, according to media reports.

The team of experts from an Airbus facility in the French city of Toulouse reached Pakistan on Monday to carry out an independent probe into Friday’s mishap.

The crash involved the Netherlands-headquartered international aerospace company’s Airbus A-320, which plunged into a residential area minutes before landing reportedly due to engine failure.

The team inspected the runway of the Jinnah International Airport here, where the plane made a failed attempt to land before going up and crashing in a nearby residential area, The Express Tribune reported.

They also visited the air traffic control tower and the radar control station.

The team will also inspect the mishap site where the national flag carrier’s flight PK-8303 from Lahore crash landed, the report said.

The experts will also provide technical assistance to their Pakistani counterparts to investigate the reasons behind the crash, one of the worst in the country’s aviation history in recent times.

The experts are expected to take the aircraft’s black box recorder which contains the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder and any other evidence that would help with the investigation, the report said.

The team will fly back to France after completing the 16-hour investigation, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan aviation authorities on Tuesday said that they have shared the findings of their initial investigation into the crash with the Airbus team.

“We are providing all possible assistance to the technical experts of Airbus,” Abdul Hafeez, a spokesperson for PIA, was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

The report said the authorities have cordoned off the crash site and also secured the plane’s black box to facilitate the investigation.

The Pakistani probe team is expected to submit a full report on the crash in about three months.

According to the PIA’s engineering and maintenance department, the last check of the plane was done on March 21 this year and it had flown from Muscat to Lahore a day before the crash.

The aircraft was handed over to the PIA in 2014 and had completed 47,100 flight hours and 25,860 flight cycles until it’s crash on Friday.

The Express Tribune in its report stated that the bodies are identified through DNA testing and so far, 41 bodies have been handed over to the family members of the deceased.

“PIA is engaged in the 24-hour emergency response centre to assist the victims’ family members,” a PIA spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report.

“The PIA has immediately started delivering Rs 1 million each to the victims’ families,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the injured from among the crash site in the Model Colony area are under treatment at different hospitals in Karachi.

Eighteen homes were damaged and 11 people were injured when the plane crash landed in the residential area.

A survey team has also begun its work to assess the damage caused to the property where the aircraft crashed, the report said.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pakistan government has allowed the limited domestic flight operations from five major airports – Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta – from May 16.

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