Pilots in Pakistan air crash distracted by coronavirus worry

Pakistan International Airlines A320

The preliminary report into the investigation of the Pakistani airliner that crashed in May revealed that the pilots were distracted and preoccupied as they talked about the coronavirus pandemic while preparing to land.

In the first failed attempt to land, the engines of Pakistan International Airlines A320 touched the ground as the landing gear was not extended and a go-around was initiated.

During the second attempt to land, the flight crew declared an emergency stating that both engines had failed. The aircraft started losing altitude and eventually crashed in a populated area 1.3 kilometer short of the runway.

Out of the 99 persons on-board, 97 were fatally injured and 4 persons on the ground were injured however 1 reportedly died later at a hospital.

PK8303, registration AP-BLD, was a scheduled commercial flight from Lahore (Allama Iqbal International Airport) to Karachi (Jinnah International Airport) in Pakistan.

The report revealed that the aircraft’s altitude during the approach was higher that normal and that the landing gear was lowered at 10 nautical miles, but then raised again 5 nautical miles from the runway.

According to the report, the aircraft was serviceable and the pilots were adequately qualified and experienced to undertake the said flight.

“The discussion throughout was about corona,” said Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, about the exchanges between the pilot and co-pilot. “Corona was dominant over their mind. Their family was affected.”

The report does not include a transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), but it stated “the crew did not follow standard callouts and did not observe Crew Resource Management (CRM) aspects during most parts of flight.”

According to the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and CVR recordings several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts were disregarded.