The PIA plane, which crashed in Karachi on Friday afternoon, was “technically sound”, PIA CEO Arshad Malik told a press conference in Karachi on Friday evening.
Malik said that 2-3 days were required to complete the operation and then the Aviation Ministry would launch an inquiry into the crash.
He said he wanted the inquiry report to be completed as soon as possible but could not give a timeframe for that. He said that PIA would not interfere in the inquiry.
The PIA chief said 99 people, including passengers and air crew, were onboard the ill-fated plane and “we have reports of 19 dead in Civil Hospital and 22 in other hospitals” as of now.
He said the pilot established a final landing approach and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) control room gave him a green signal to go ahead.
“The pilot then did a go-around. He said he is preparing for a second approach. “Now what was the reason for the go-around? Please do not speculate,” Malik said, adding that facts could be ascertained through flight recorder and the black box.
“Nothing can be said until the black box is found,” he said. After the go-around, the PIA official said, the pilot gave a call, saying he “will establish for second approach”.
“Something happened there and there can only be ambiguities until we receive the voice and data recorders.
I say this with responsibility that when it is received, we’ll know whether there was a technical fault, some other issue, some outside activity, bird hit, etc.
“When the plane lowered down, the ATC asked the pilot if there was an issue and the pilot said, ‘Yes, I am facing a problem,’ after which the communication was cut off.”
“The plane crash-landed in a street: it caused damage but thankfully no building collapsed,” he said. He spoke about the victims and the response to the incident.
He said that families of the victims were welcome to come and stay at airport hotels in Karachi that have been vacated. All affected persons are going to be accommodated at airport hotels and other government facilities.
He said the Safety Investigation Board “is a government body that will oversee the investigation” and it was “independent of PIA and will operate under its own SOPs”.
Malik said the monitoring of the aircraft’s technical soundness was done by the industry, which has a database through which “they keep a close eye on the aircraft’s health”.
“I do not wish to give any further information [on the survivors] and I do not want to give anyone false hopes.
Our emergency response centre is working round-the-clock to ascertain the facts,” he said. “I will provide more information as soon as we have it,” he promised.