Preliminary probe blames ATC, overconfident pilot for crashed PIA fight 8303

A preliminary probe into the crash of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303, which left nearly 100 people dead, has laid the blame for the accident on the pilot of the plane and the air traffic controller (ATC) who was in communication with him, Pakistani media reported on Monday.

The preliminary probe, which is to be presented to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, says that the pilot of the flight did not follow procedure and was overconfident, according to a news report by Ary News. The probe reportedly also faults the ATC for not giving adequate instructions to the pilot of the ill-fated PK-8303.

Ary News does not go into the details of the pilot’s and ATC’s faults; these details are expected to be clearer once the probe report is made public. According to Ary News, the probe was conducted by Pakistan’s Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board.

The preliminary probe’s reported findings are in line with earlier news reports that suggested that the pilot of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 had ignored warnings both within the cockpit and from the ATC.

Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 — a Lahore-Karachi service — crashed into a densely populated area of Karachi while on its second landing attempt. The crash left 97 people — including the pilots — dead, with two passengers miraculously surviving.

While official confirmation is awaited, videos the crash, an audio recording to the conversation between the ATC and the pilot of PK-8303, and media reports have indicated that the flight was flying too high and too fast during its first landing attempt.

Audio recordings suggest the ATC did warn the pilot about the incorrect height and speed, but the pilot was heard responding that he was confident about managing the landing. During the first landing attempt, PK-8303 — an Airbus A320 — did not have its landing gear extended due to which it brushed the runway, possibly damaging its engines.

The pilot then decided to initiate a ‘go around’, i.e. abort the landing and take-off in an attempt to come back for another landing. However, during the second landing attempt, the plane was apparently unable to maintain height. The pilot reporting losing “engine” (it’s not known if one or both) before the flight ultimately crashed.

It is not known yet why the plane’s landing gear was not lowered during the first landing attempt. Questions, however, have been raised about whether the co-pilot of the plane should have spoken up or whether the ATC should have been more forceful about the flight’s unstable initial approach.