Bhoja Airlines Boeing 737-236

May 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Aircraft Accidents | Leave a comment

Bhoja Airlines Boeing 737-236

20 April 2012

Pakistan

127 d

[Source: Aviation Safety Network]

(Photos: AFP/Aamir Qureshi):

Status: Preliminary
Date: 20 APR 2012
Time: ca 18:40
Type: Boeing 737-236
Operator: Bhoja Airlines
Registration: AP-BKC
C/n / msn: 23167/1074
First flight: 1984-12-13 (27 years 5 months)
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15A
Crew: Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers: Fatalities: 121 / Occupants: 121
Total: Fatalities: 127 / Occupants: 127
Airplane damage: Written off
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Islamabad (Pakistan)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Karachi-Jinnah International Airport (KHI) (KHI/OPKC), Pakistan
Destination airport: Islamabad-Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB) (ISB/OPRN), Pakistan
Flightnumber: 213
Narrative:  A Boeing 737 passenger plane was destroyed in an accident near Islamabad, Pakistan. Initial reports indicate that all 121 passengers and six crew members were killed. Bhorja flight B4 213 departed Karachi (KHI) on a domestic flight to Islamabad (ISB). This was Bhorja’s inaugural flight on that route. The airplane crashed, broke up and burned in a rural area near Chaklala Air Base and close to the Islamabad Express Highway. Based on the accident location, it seems likely that the airplane was approaching runway 30 at Islamabad at the time of the accident.  Weather reported about the time of the accident (18:40 LT/13:40 UTC) was poor with limited visibility, thunderstorm and rain:
OPRN 201400Z 23020KT 3000 TSRA FEW025CB SCT030 BKN100 20/16 Q1011.0/29.85
OPRN 201300Z 23020KT 4000 TS FEW025CB SCT030 BKN100 25/15 Q1009.3/29.80

FOX NEWS [Published April 21, 2012]

[Associated Press]

“Pakistan probes jet crash amid criticism”

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan on Saturday barred the head of the airline whose jet crashed near the capital from leaving the country, vowing to investigate a tragedy that has revived fears about the safety of aviation in a country saddled by massive economic problems. The Bhoja Air passenger jet crashed Friday evening as it tried to land in a thunderstorm at Islamabad’s main airport, killing all 127 people on board. The second major air disaster close to the capital in less than two years, the crash triggered fresh criticism of an already embattled government, which faced questions over why it gave a license to the tiny airline just last month.

Sobbing relatives of those who died flocked to a hospital in Islamabad to collect the remains of their loved ones. “We had no idea they would be called for eternal rest,” said Sardar Aftaz Khan, who was trying to secure the release of the bodies of her mother, an aunt and a nephew. Speaking after visiting the scene of the crash, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Farooq Bhoja, the head of Bhoja Air, had been put on the “exit control list,” which bars him from leaving Pakistan. Such a ban is often put on someone suspected or implicated in a criminal case. Malik said Bhoja had been ordered into protective custody and a criminal investigation launched into the crash, presumably running alongside the one being carried out by aviation authorities. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also ordered a third probe, known as a judicial commission, into the accident.

Nadeem Yousufzai, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, urged people not to speculate on the cause of the crash before all the evidence had been collected. He said he had listened to a recording of the conversation between the pilot and the control tower and said the pilot was in a “happy” mood. He said the weather was bad, but noted that another plane landed safely at the airport five minutes after the crash. He denied there was any “political pressure” in the awarding of the license to Bhoja Air, one of just three private airlines in Pakistan. The airline only recently received a permit and began flying last month after it lost its license in 2001 because of financial difficulties.

A representative for Bhoja Air, Jahanzeb Khan, declined comment on the travel ban against Farooq Bhoja and said the airline would discuss the case after the investigation was complete. Malik, the interior minister, appeared to back up theories aired by some in the media that the age of the aircraft may have been a factor, saying the airline “seems to be at fault as it had acquired a very old aircraft.” “If the airline management doesn’t have enough money it doesn’t mean you go and buy a 30-year-old or more aircraft as if it were a rickshaw and start an airline,” he said. According to the Web site http://www.airfleets.net, the Bhoja jet was 32 years old and first saw service with British Airways in South Africa. Thirty-two years is not especially old for an aircraft, and age by itself is rarely an important factor in crashes, said Nasim Ahmed, a former crash investigator.

Malik’s comments — and the three official investigations — appeared to be part of a government effort to move quickly and deflect some of the criticism that it is likely to find itself under in coming days because of the crash. Such is distrust of the state in Pakistan, few believe the government — which lurches from crisis to crisis, clinging to power in the face of a mostly hostile media, opposition and judiciary — has the will to hold politically connected people accountable or carry out credible investigations. The violent storm that was lashing Islamabad when the accident took place has led some experts to speculate that “wind shear,” sudden changes in wind that can lift or smash an aircraft into the ground during landing, may have been a factor. It may even have been a dangerous localized form of the phenomena, called a microburst. That can cause planes to lose airspeed suddenly or lift abruptly if a headwind suddenly changes to a tail wind during takeoff or landing. Soldiers and emergency workers at first light began the grim task of looking for bodies and body parts among the debris from the Boeing 737-200, which was spread out over a one-kilometer (mile) stretch of wheat farms around five kilometers (three miles) from Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

The plane was flying from the southern city of Karachi to Islamabad when it crashed. One soldier had a plastic bag over his hand and was picking up small bits of flesh. Another was using a stick to get at remains in a tree. “We are collecting these so that the souls are not desecrated,” one of them said. The officers were also picking up personal effects of the passengers, making piles of documents, bank cards, gold and bangles.

The last major plane crash in the country — and Pakistan’s worst — occurred in July 2010 when an Airbus A321 aircraft operated by domestic carrier Airblue crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad, killing all 152 people aboard. A government investigation blamed the pilot for veering off course amid stormy weather.

Nasim Ahmed, the former investigator, said it appeared at this stage that the age and air worthiness of the plane were unlikely causes. He said that a combination of factors during landing was probably to blame, possibly the weather or some form of unexpected incident that caused the pilot to lose vital awareness of the plane’s location. Ahmed said the accident highlighted long-standing weaknesses in Pakistan’s aviation industry, which he said couldn’t be separated from management problems in the Civil Aviation Authority, poor government oversight and corruption and nepotism in the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines.

In 2007, the European Union banned most PIA flights from its member’s airports for eight months due to safety concerns. “There are problems in the overall handling of the country, and the Civil Aviation Authority is not an isolated pocket of good governance,” Ahmed said.

“After the tragedy, a rush to judgment”

THE ECONOMIST – Monday 30 April 2012:

A BHOJA AIR 737 carrying 127 passengers and crew was coming in for a landing in a thunderstorm near Islamabad on Friday when it suddenly dropped from 2,900ft (883 metres) to 2,000ft (609 metres), appeared to lose control, hit the ground, bounced up from the impact and exploded, according to witness accounts and government statements. There were no survivors. In Pakistan, the rush to judgment has already begun. Farooq Bhoja, the head of the airline, has been barred from leaving the country—a hint that a criminal investigation may be on the way. Rehman Malik, the country’s interior minister, has implied that the age of the aeroplane, which has been in service with various airlines for over three decades, may have been a factor. Bhoja Air “seems to be at fault as it had acquired a very old aircraft,” he told the press. But well-maintained planes can last significantly longer than 30 years, and the age of an aircraft is rarely cited as a factor in a fatal crash.

The Associated Press has an excellent story [refer to the article above!] on the crash that takes an appropriately skeptical tone towards Mr Malik’s statements and the three crash probes that have been launched since Friday:

Malik’s comments—and the three official investigations—appeared to be part of a government effort to move quickly and deflect some of the criticism that it is likely to find itself under in coming days because of the crash. Such is distrust of the state in Pakistan, few believe the government—which lurches from crisis to crisis, clinging to power in the face of a mostly hostile media, opposition and judiciary—has the will to hold politically connected people accountable or carry out credible investigations.

A rush to judgment, irresponsible comments from the government and three separate investigations are not going to do much to restore flyers’ confidence in the Pakistani government’s ability to safely regulate its airlines. Pakistan’s state-owned flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, was barred from all EU airports for eight months in 2007, so it’s clear that international air-travel regulators haven’t had the highest opinion of Pakistan’s aviation sector in the past. So far, the chaos following this incident—the second major crash near Islamabad in as many years—is only making the Pakistani government and its Civil Aviation Authority look worse. It is of course possible that Bhoja Air was at fault in Friday’s crash. But other factors could have played a role in this tragedy. Hazardous weather conditions were reported near the airport. Pilot error could have been a factor. It’s impossible for anyone—Mr Malik, the media, or outside experts—to know exactly who or what is at fault for this crash before the plane’s black boxes are examined and a full, professional investigation is completed. Let’s wait for that to happen before we decide who deserves the blame.

My Thoughts:

Usually “the more corrupt the more the speculation,” as it evolves in nothing more than a “blame game!” Here the Government [and the State owned airline] ‘is never wrong,’ thus it concludes to ‘pilot error’ – if no blatant technical malfunction can be proved! The sad case is that, in a State where there is no indication of a “Just Culture,” we can usually expect lies and more lies and more blame, thus any “accident investigation” is flawed from the onset! As such there will be no substantiated causal factors, thus no valid recommendations, thus this type of accident will happen again and again! Note that I have not even mentioned WX / CFIT or any possible [and actual] causal factors, as accidents in States where there is no “Safety Culture” – [thus no Just or Learning Culture], “a full, professional investigation” is hardly possible, and even if s, with the state / airline accept and implement the recommendations? If not, there can be no preventive actions either and the best we as pilots can do is to have sympathy with the families! The Bhoja Airlines accident will then be a case of: Sad to see that so many have died in vain, again!

However, rest assured that ALPA [and IFLPA] will not give up pursuing ‘justice’ for all crews, a JUST- and Learning Culture, anywhere and everywhere!

Cobus Toerien

Chairman – Accident Analysis & Prevention Committee

ALPA

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