Flight PK-303, of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), tragically crashed near the Jinnah International Airport, in a residential colony, on the afternoon of May 22. The flight was en-route from Lahore to Karachi, when it crashed near the Model Colony, merely a minute prior to its supposed landing, reported Geo News. There were 99 passengers and 8 crew members on board.
No immediate reports on the number of casualties have come so far, but it’s assumed that, barring a few (four as of now), unfortunately, most of the passengers have perished. Onlookers say that the flight attempted to land three times before crashing. Shakeel Ahmed, one of the witnesses informed that the airplane first hit a tower and then crashed over the houses. Severe damage has been caused to the residential area as well. Pakistan had just resumed the domestic flight services partially, as the lockdown there was eased.
It is reported that Sindh’s Ministry of Health and Population welfare has declared an emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi due to the mishap. Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, “Shocked and saddened by the PIA crash. I am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue and relief teams on the ground as this is the priority now. The immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers and condolences go to the family of the deceased.” Pakistani media reported that Pak Army Quick Reaction Force and Pakistan Rangers had arrived at the crash site to assist in relief, rescue and evacuation operations.
As per the data released by FlightRadar, a flight monitoring site, PIA flight PK 8303 took off from Lahore 1:05 PM (Pak timing). At 2:34 PM, the aircraft made a landing attempt that was aborted at 275 feet and the aircraft climbed up to 3175 feet. Signal was lost at 02:40 at 525 feet.
Abdul Sattar Khohar, a civil aviation official informed Reuters that the pilot was told that both the runways at the Karachi airport were ready and he could land. He however took a circle and gave a ‘Mayday’ call before the crash. In the final moments before the crash, one of the pilots can be heard saying the Air Traffic Controller that there is a technical difficulty and that they have lost both its engine, before sending the distress message, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”.
Mayday is the word used around the world to make a distress call via radio communication, usually under extreme emergency.
The flight was an Airbus A320-214 model, which used a CFM56 engine made by CFM International, a joint venture between US-based General Electric (GE) and France’s Safran. The manufacturer of the plane, Airbus, has expressed contrition over the incident in a statement saying, “We regret to confirm that an A320 operated by Pakistan International Airlines was involved in an accident during flight PK8303 from Lahore to Karachi on May 22, 2020. Our thoughts are with all those affected. Airbus is providing assistance to the investigation.”
A senior aviation official, talking to Reuters suggested that the plane was unable to open its wheels due to a technical fault prior to landing. Other assumptions say that the engines went out of order, so the plane lost control. It is however, too early to determine the cause. Probes and investigations over this have already begun.