Past air crash probes be made public: Imran Khan

May 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said the inquiry report on the PIA plane crash would be presented in parliament on June 22.'There must be no confusion in...

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Past air crash probes be made public: Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said the inquiry report on the PIA plane crash would be presented in parliament on June 22.

"There must be no confusion in anyone's mind that there will be an attempt to save anyone or implicate anyone deliberately," he promised. "I assure the family of the deceased pilot (Captain Sajjad Gul) on behalf of the prime minister that a transparent inquiry will be conducted," he said.

The minister said instead of speculation, people must now show trust in the inquiry being carried out. Sarwar said the prime minister had shown great displeasure during a meeting (held on Thursday) to discuss progress in the probe and asked why the reports of previous aviation disasters had never been shared.

He said 12 such tragedies had taken place since Pakistan came into being of which 10 were those of PIA aircraft. He vowed that reports of all 12 aviation disasters would be made public.

"It is our responsibility to present all the facts timely and in a transparent manner to the public." Sarwar said right after the incident, the aviation ministry notified a board with the approval of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"The board has been instructed to conclude its report expediently," he said. The four-member investigation team consists of three air force personnel and one representative of the industry regulator.

The aviation minister said he reviewed the crash site and met with the families of the deceased. He said about 12-15 houses and multiple cars had been damaged and will be evaluated for compensation.

So far, 51 of the 97 bodies have been identified and returned to their heirs, he said. "We are trying our best to hand over the bodies without any delays." He said the aviation ministry will provide Rs500,000 in compensation and the government will provide Rs1 million to the victims' families. The rest will be provided by the insurance companies.

He regretted that every matter in the country was politicised. "There was a plane crash in 2010 as well. No one raised so many objections then." Sarwar said whoever was found responsible will be held accountable.

"If the plane had a technical error, that too will be on record." He said the flight data recorder and voice recorder were being decoded and facts will soon be clear. "I am satisfied with the performance of our institutions," he said.

Speaking of the day of the crash, he said civilians demonstrated great spirit while participating in rescue efforts. The minister also spoke about the planned bifurcation of the Civil Aviation Authority.

"On the directives of PM Imran Khan, the committee, headed by Dr Ishrat, will work on bifurcation of the Civil Aviation Authority and the matter should be finalised by June 30." He said there was no credibility in news that the debris of the plane was lifted or removed before adequate investigation in the case.

The minister, speaking of the government's efforts to ensure fairness in the probe, said: "We have tried to include representatives from various departments to analyse each aspect of the case closely. We have also included psychiatrists in the team to monitor the otherwise negligible details in the case, for instance, the psychological state of the pilot while he was on the flight."

In a related development, the cockpit voice recorder of PIA flight PK-8303 that crashed in Karachi on May 22 has finally been recovered, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed on Thursday.

The recorder, recovered from the rubble, will greatly help investigation and will provide important clues about what happened in the moments preceding the crash. The PIA spokesperson said the recorder had been handed over to the team investigating the incident.

Separately, the Airbus technical team in its statement said the Pakistani authorities had requested them to decode the voice recorder. "We have spoken to the Pakistani team about moving the voice recorder and flight recorder to France,” the statement said, adding that data from both will be decoded in France.

Removal of the wreckage commenced after permission from the Airbus investigation team that had arrived in Karachi on Tuesday. The experts have collected crucial evidence from the crash site as well.

Trawlers, heavy machinery, and various other vehicles were used to move the pieces including its cabin and tail; however, the engine, landing gear, and avionics were left behind until the Airbus' team of experts completed their work.

The process was monitored by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), and the Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) engineering and technical ground support staff.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday directed the authorities concerned to ensure a transparent and impartial investigation into the Karachi plane crash and make public the probe reports of the past air crashes. He was chairing a meeting here in which he was briefed about the progress made so far in the PIA plane crash in Karachi.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Information and Broadcasting Minister Shibli Faraz, Assistant Special Information Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Special Assistant Shahbaz Gul, Chief Executive PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik and Secretary Aviation Division Hassan Nasir Jami.

The prime minister emphasized that no effort should be spared to bring facts to the fore and that all facts and details of investigation be made public.

Imran directed that reports of the past air accidents should also be made public so that people could know the facts. Imran Khan said the compensation amount should be given to the bereaved families of martyred passengers as well as a package be prepared for those whose properties and houses were damaged in the incident.

Terming Karachi plane crash a major tragedy, he said, “We share the grief of the bereaved families at this difficult hour”. The prime minister directed the Civil Aviation Authority, PIA, and other relevant institutions to take steps towards making the air travel safe.

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