‘Plane altered its course east instead of heading south’

The Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday shared its findings from black box data recovered from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 that had crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral on December 7, 2016. 

Secretary CAA Irfan Elahi shared the findings with the Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedures and Privileges that was held here in the Parliament House with the Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini in the chair.

The flight was carrying 48 passengers and there were no survivor in the incident. Both engines of the aircraft were running 100 percent fine when the plane took off from Chitral, he said, adding that one of the plane’s engines was working when the plane crashed, but black box data indicates that no effort was made to land the aircraft before the crash was reported.

Sharing details of the black box report, the secretary CAA said the first call to the control room was made at 04:12pm, and the pilot’s voice was seemingly “calm” when he made the call. Two minutes later, at 4:14pm, the pilot issued a May Day call, saying one of the engines stopped working.

At 04:17pm, the plane altered its course east instead of heading south, at which point the control room tried to get in touch with the pilot.

The last communication with the pilot was recorded at 04:17pm, while 10 to 15 minutes later, the plane was reported to have crashed, Elahi revealed. He said the data from the black box is “100 percent” unaltered, and that the investigation was conducted independently without any involvement of the CAA or the PIA. Elahi also revealed that the Prime Minister had travelled through the same plane to Gwadar one week before the crash.

To another agenda item, Mayor Islamabad Sheikh Ansar Aziz sought one month time from the committee to get a summary of land lease cancellation of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) from the Prime Minister Office.

The chairman of the committee granted one month time for the purpose to the mayor with consent of other committee members and with clear instructions that no more time will be given for implementation of the directions.

Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah, mover of the privilege motion, said the Standing Committee on Food Security and Senate adopted that Capital Development Authority (CDA) will not cancel land lease of the PARC and same was communicated to it on November 15, 2015.

He said that despite passage of more than a year, the CDA is yet to get a summary withdrawn from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding cancellation of the lease. He said the CDA officials informed the committee members that over 50 different cases of violation of the land lease were identified but no action was taken against any of them.

Shah urged the mayor to take action against the land mafia that is setting its eyes on the prized land of the PARC where the government has invested millions of rupees so far for the agriculture research.

He said the CDA has breached privilege of the food security committee and the Senate by not acting upon the directions. The mayor of Islamabad, however, sought one month time from the committee for implementation of the directions and the committee unanimously granted it.

To another privilege motion moved by Senator Daud Khan Achakzai, the chairman of the committee directed chief secretary Balochistan to attend meeting of Standing Committee on Communication and brief the members about the ongoing projects.

Senator Daud Achakzai informed the committee members that seven meetings of the Communication Committee have taken place so far but chief secretary Balochistan or any of his representatives failed to brief the committee on land acquisition for western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

To this, chief secretary Balochistan said that a basic survey of the route except Qillah Saifullah and Quetta has been completed and a report of it has also been presented to the federal government. He said the physical work on the project will be started after the federal government deposits at least 30 percent funds of the total cost estimated for its completion. He assured the committee members that he would attend the meeting of Standing Committee on Communication and brief it in detail about the project.

The director general Frontier Works Organisation informed the committee members that a relevant deputy director general would attend the Communication Committee’s meetings in future to brief the members about ongoing projects.

He also invited members of the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges to visit the FWO Headquarters for detailed briefings on the performance of the organisation and different projects that it is working on in numerous parts of the country.

-Business Recorder