Initial findings by investigation authorities suggest that pilot error cannot be ruled out as a major cause of PIA’s A320 crash.
Earlier in the week, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in a report, that the pilot violated landing protocol; also ignored Air Traffic Controller’s (ATC) instructions to descend from the aircraft’s current altitude.
At this early investigation stage, nothing is set in stone. The CAA report however, does highlight some potential mistakes made by the pilot.
The approach controller for one did warn the pilot twice regarding the aircraft’s speed and altitude. The letter quotes:
When aircraft was 7NM final from touchdown RWY [runway] 25L passing 5,200 feet, it was relatively high as per the standard approach profile… I again warned aircraft at 05NM from touchdown which was passing 3,500 feet… Aircraft was observed passing runway threshold at ground speed of 210 knots.
Analysis of Decoded Recorder Data
Pakistan’s Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board (AAIB) is spearheading the investigation. It requested Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) to download and decode data from the CVR and FDR, which they have now completed.
On Friday, BEA reported that it had successfully recovered and decoded data of both flight recorders. Now the team is busy analysing the recovered data. A local news outlet reported today that the recovered data has also been handed over to Air Commodore Usman Ghani — AAIB’s president.
(1/2) ⚠️@Airbus #A320 AP-BLD @Official_PIA / travail technique – déchargement et décodage des données FDR & CVR par @BEA_Aero à la demande de l'AAIB du Pakistan est terminé / les analyses se poursuivront.
— BEA ✈️ ⚙️🔬🇫🇷 (@BEA_Aero) June 5, 2020
Preliminary Report of the Crash
Pakistan’s aviation minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, announced that the final investigation report will be made public in four to six months. However, the initial report detailing preliminary findings will be released later in the month.
The provisional report will clarify some of the confusion surrounding the whole episode. Airbus and the aircraft engine manufacturer CFM, are key stakeholders in the case and could be held accountable if a technical issue with the aircraft is discovered. PIA’s ground maintenance and engineering teams are also responsible. On the other hand, “pilot error” still stands as one of the major contributors to the fatal crash.
The deadly crash that occurred on 22 May, resulted in 97 deaths and spared only two survivors. Families of the affected await answers from the investigation authorities, as they mourn their loved ones.
Travel Radar will continue monitoring events and issue an update once the initial report is made public.