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Pilots and Controller Blamed for Pakistani A320 Crash

A PIA A320 aircraft (Photo: Aasif Azaan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0))

The Pakistani Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) has released the preliminary report on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) accident a month after the crash. According to the report, the flight crew did not follow the procedures and failed to extend its landing gear, leading to a gear-up landing and initiated a go-around with damaged engines. Investigators also accused the crew of being overconfident.

The investigation probe clarified that the provisional report had been prepared with data obtained from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), flight data recorder (FDR) as well as evidence collected from the crash site.

The PIA Airbus A320 crashed near Karachi Airport, Pakistan on May 22 while operating a domestic service as flight 8303 from Lahore. There were 91 passengers and eight crew onboard the A320, 97 of which lost their lives while two passengers survived with injuries.

AAIB had previously sent a letter to PIA stating that pilots of the ill-fated Airbus A320 did not follow ATC instructions and violated established procedures.

“When the aircraft was seven nautical miles from touchdown runway 25L passing 5200 feet, it was relatively high as pert the standard approach profile. I instructed the pilots twice to discontinue approach and turn left heading 180 which he did not comply and continued to approach runway 25L with his own discretion to establish ILS approach runway 25L. I again warned aircraft at 5 nautical miles from touchdown passing 3500 feet. At 4 nm aircraft was observed approaching 1300 feet with ground speed of 250 knots. Aircraft was observed passing runway threshold at ground speed of 210 knots,” said the controller in a letter written following the crash.

However, the report says that the air traffic controller is also equally responsible for the accident as he failed to warn the pilots about the landing gear issue and the engines’ contact with the ground during the first approach.

The captain said that he would adjust the speed and altitude of the aircraft prior to landing. However, he and the co-pilot appear to forget to extend landing gear in spite of an alarm that warned pilots that the gear was up.

According to the air traffic controller, the crew failed to extend the gear as they were busy with adjusting the speed and altitude for a stabilized landing. As a result of a gear-up landing, both engines got damaged as they contacted the ground at a high speed. The aircraft lost both engines during the second approach resulting in a catastrophic accident.

Bulent Imat


  • Bulent Imat

    Bulent is an aviation journalist, content creator and traveller. He lives in Germany and has experienced travelling with almost all flag carrier airlines and low-cost airlines based in Europe and the Middle East to observe the standards of different airline companies and airports. He has extensive knowledge in web design and content creation.

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