By Irum Saleem
As worst propaganda has been made against the pilot of ill-fated PIA plane PK 8303 in which 97 passengers and crew were killed during their travel from Lahore to Karachi, a good number of pilots have come out for his defence.
Former president of Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) Capt. Sohail Baloch said: “We cannot rule out the technical issues when pilot Sajjad Gul with 17,000 flying hours, operating same flight (Lahore-Karachi-Lahore) for last five days, met this fate.” However, the ATC did not report any ‘abnormal flying’ during the last five flights of him.
“It is disheartening to see that few factions are baselessly blaming crew just to save the real culprits. We will also have to consider the element of fatigue as pilots are operating flights without international standards of rest time and asking for administration’s attention on such a pivotal issue,” he said.
Mr Baloch further said: “For the first time in the history up and down international flights from Pakistan to Europe are being operated which is in violation and against all safety protocols but pilots are cooperating with management to ensure relief to people during pandemic. Instead the management should be thankful, it is blaming pilots which is causing psychological issues.” He demanded to include the changes made in CAA’s ANO in 2010 in the inquiry.
Another retired pilot said: “History tells us that investigation reports in Pakistan are either not made public or those which under pressure did come out were not accepted, for instance Air Blue crash report which was rejected by Peshawar High Court.”
In the investigation into PK-8303 crash, he said one must notice that right from the aviation minister to the CEO PIA and every other relevant or irrelevant person in the same breath announced that ‘culprit will be brought to justice’. “This very approach says it all, the pilot will be blamed of negligence and being irresponsible in not listening to ATC advice and showing stubbornness and being strict on the first officer who could not suggest corrective measures due to abusive behavior and remained quiet throughout the rest of the flight, just like Air Blue crash, which is not the case here as in leaked audio the First Officer is seemingly calm and in control.”
On the contrary, the international investigations were carried out to find out — technical or mechanical failures which can be corrected in rest of the flying machines, if a blatant mistake is made by the pilot or over sight of laid down procedures — then all aspects leading the pilot to make that mistake are probed, from airline flying manual, procedures, duty structure, individual financial and family conditions probably putting stress on pilot.
“The public is interested in knowing what actually had happened, the media is ready to give verdict while the government is in a hurry to get absolved of all responsibilities by putting the blame on the pilot.”
The retired pilot said the investigators would have to ask few pertinent questions in defence of the pilot — why was pilot not informed of engine touching down as pilot might have heard the bang but couldn’t possibly see the engines scrapping as he was too busy, and it was evident from the question of ATC in last few minutes (confirm you are coming for belly landing), secondly and most importantly why was the pilot not given a closer vector of .75 degrees instead of 110 keeping him parallel to runway on Shahra-e-Faisal which would have saved a lot of energy specially when the ATC knew that engines have been scrubbed and pilot has not asked for belly landing.
Another pilot asked: “Nobody can ask the pilot to discontinue or continue landing due to engine scrubbing, it seems childish that after the mid of runway ATC will force pilot not to go around, its pilots own decision globally while yes ATC can force you to go around by not clearing you to land in first instance, it seems your source is either saving tower official or may be doesn’t know anything.”
It is informed that autopsy was carried out on the body of pilot while copilot body is probably not identified and may be an autopsy is not even possible on copilot body because of burns.
“Secondly its not pilot authority to contact tower the approach hands over just like Lahore tower did hand over to approach asking pilot to switch to 121.3”.
The pilot did not expect engine failure it should have been the tower raising the alarm to ATC which he probably would have done but ATC didn’t take it seriously, going to 10 mile mark was not necessary specially when ATC and tower knew about engine scrubbing. Pak Destiny