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December 24, 2011

AirBlue crash report raises several questions


December 24, 2011

KARACHI: The families of Airblue ED202 crash victims and aviation experts have expressed doubts over the credibility and transparency of the investigation report submitted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the Peshawar High Court. Haris Lodhi, media coordinator of Airblue crash victims group, said they were not satisfied with the findings of the report. “We are not convinced with the findings of the report and we are consulting our lawyers and international aviation experts in this regard,” Lodhi said.
The report said the probable cause of the crash was negligence of the captain. Lodhi said that the report was entirely based on the cabin voice recorder and if human error was the only reason then why the CAA took so much time in making the report public. He also demanded penalty against the airline.
Aviation analysts said that investigation team had members only from the CAA and Airblue. All over the world independent statutory bodies conduct such investigations without interference and involvement of the aviation authorities and airline companies.
“The most bizarre aspect of the report is that the investigation team of Airblue Flight ED 202 does not possess required qualification, experience and expertise as prescribed by the ICAO Guidelines for Aircraft Accident Investigator-Circular 298,” said Shah Murad, an aviation lawyer.
It is worth mentioning here that pilot-in-command of Airblue Flight ED 202 Capt Pervaiz Iqbal Chaudhry was 61 years and 07 months old. It is important to note that just two months before the tragic accident pilot-in-command was admitted in the Aga Khan Hospital on account of serious health issues including diabetes, hypertension and cardiac problems.
Regarding medical fitness of pilots the Standard of Annex 1 (Personnel Licencing) clearly says that the pilot should not suffer from any disease or disability, which could render that pilot likely to become suddenly unable either to operate an aircraft

safely or to perform assigned duties safely. In addition, Standard and of Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing) stipulate that pilot with insulin-treated and non-insulin-treated diabetes mellitus shall be assessed as ‘unfit.’ Here the question arises how the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued licence to this pilot? Murad said that after the fatal accident the CAA did not take proper measures to protect the wreckage of the aircraft and its contents at the crash site.
Standard 3.2 of ICAO Annex 13 (Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation) requires that the State of occurrence shall take all reasonable measures to protect the evidence and to maintain safe custody of the aircraft and its contents for the purposes of an investigation.
As per Standard 5.3.1 of ICAO Manual of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation it was the primary duty of investigator-in-charge to immediately verify that arrangements have been made at the crash site to ensure the security of the wreckage. No investigation of aircraft accident is complete without evaluation and consideration of the pilot’s pre-existing disease. The investigation report of ED202 does not say anything about medical evaluation of pilots.
It is important to note that the bodies of deceased passengers were shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad. However, investigator-in-charge on behalf of Safety Investigation Board (SIB) did not request PIMS administration for conducting the autopsy of fatally injured pilots, flight crew and passengers.
Standard 5.9 of ICAO Annex 13 and Rule 273 (2) d of Civil Aviation Rules, 1994 both require that the State conducting the investigation into a fatal accident shall arrange for complete autopsy of pilots, flight crew and passengers by the forensic pathologist and forensic odontologist.
According to experts, following an aircraft accident two parallel investigations are conducted, technical investigation and the judicial investigation. The CAA has conducted only technical investigation, which serves to provide recommendations to prevent accidents form reoccurrence and not to apportion blame or liability. On the other hand, judicial investigation goes several steps beyond the technical investigation and utilises other tests to evaluate the results of the investigative process for criminal and civil liability on the concerned parties that have been at fault.
As far as compensation to the aggrieved families is concerned, most of the families have not been paid any money due to legal documentary formalities. It was also learnt the ministry of finance has denied payment to the CAA due to lack of funds as a result of which the compensation announced by the PM could not be paid.

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