PIA is losing credibility
By Saad HasanKARACHI: A dangerous mishap in handling of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft has again brought to fore the incompetence, which has marred the performance of the airline.
One of PIA’s latest Boeing 777s, carrying 269 passengers besides 17 crew members, was badly damaged while descending for a landing at Milan, Italy, on July 3. It suffered major structural damage and is still grounded there.
The aircraft, which is equipped with modern weather avoidance system and state-of-the-art technology, during the descent went through a severe hailstorm, something that could have been avoided had onboard facilities been properly used, officials in the airline told The News.
“The aircraft’s exterior body and windscreen have been damaged due to the hailstorm,” PIA’s Public Affairs Division said in a written reply. “An assessment is being done and Boeing company will inform accordingly.”
“It’s not normal to lose visibility by getting the windscreen damaged of a big aircraft,” said a senior PIA engineer. “It is sheer incompetence on the part of the pilots.” The engineer who wished not to be named for fear of wrath of the management said the B-777 (AP-BHX) avionics are capable of gauging the intensity of weather from miles away.
The aircraft, which was coming from Paris, landed at Milan on autopilot and with aid of the on-board navigation system, which coupled with Milan airfield’s reliable instrument landing system avoided a crash. Experienced pilots all over the world are trained to avoid all sorts of weather conditions, which not only cause inconvenience to passengers, but can damage an aircraft severely, leading to a serious accident.
Contrary to PIA’s version, sources say the aircraft had 179 passengers after taking off from Paris, while the total seating capacity is about 300 passengers, which points out that the aircraft was far below the take off weight and landing weight limits.
It was being flown by Capt Ahsan ur Rahman and First Officer Khalid Azmat. This flight was being operated with multiple crew comprising three pilots, because of the extended flight time. According to PIA, Capt Ahsan is a highly experienced pilot with 21,645 hours of total flying experience, whereas First officer Khalid has 8,779 hours of experience.
In spite of restrictions imposed by PIA which seek to discourage such engineers and pilots from leaving at will after gaining experience, the human resource has been flowing out on recommendations of powerful.