A day after the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK8303 crashed into a residential area near the Karachi International Airport with 98 passengers and seven crew members onboard, a number of explanations have emerged for the deadly crash which left only two survivors.
An aviation expert told Pakistan Today that when there is an indication of landing gear failure, there is a chance that it could be false, therefore, according to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), the plane does a low-level pass in front of the control tower, where the operators use binoculars to affirm the authenticity of the indication.
He said that the air traffic controller (ATC) told him that he was right and the landing gear was not deployed. Under these circumstances, belly landing is an option but it has some pre-requisite checks such as fuel level, etc. to avoid any unfortunate incident.
He further said that no pilot is prepared for a belly landing as the first time they attempt is the first time they experience it and psychological blocks can hinder its efficiency. He added that it is natural to believe that lower the altitude and speed, the less the damage would be.
The aviation expert said that the pilot was one minute short of touchdown and may have slowed the aircraft more than he should have, which led to the plane being stalled in the air, diminishing its flying capability.
He said that at 800 feet, no pilot could recover from a stalled plane, and before the pilot knew it, the plane fell down. He added that although the co-pilot suggested engine failure, there is a possibility that just because the plane had stalled, it felt like engine failure.
Alternatively, according to Juan Browne, a commercial pilot who runs the YouTube channel Blancolirio, the photographs of the plane in its final moments and the audio recording of the conversation between the pilot and the ATC provide another explanation into the incident.
Browne said that the pilot initially said that the plane was comfortable to land and was cleared to land at runway 25L but later requested an another go around, and the controller directed him to turn left and climb 3,000 feet.
According to the audio tape, Browne said, the plane was having trouble reaching 2,000 feet and the pilot informed the ATC of engine failure along with a ‘Mayday’ signal, after which the plane crashed into a residential area about 1 kilometre away from the runway.
Browne said that the recording and the flight graph suggest that a ‘ding ding ding’ sound could be heard before the plane made its first landing attempt, implying failure of landing gear. He suggested that the aircraft may have made contact with the runway surface, damaging its engines.
He said according that to the photograph, the ram air turbine was extended, implying that both engines had failed.
He further said that when post-crash photograph of the fan blade suggests that it did not receive much damage which could mean that the engines were not producing power.
It is pertinent to mention here that the government formed an investigation team on Friday to probe the tragic incident.