‘Sir, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Pakistan 8303’: Flight audio reveals terrifying last moments

The final moments of the conversation between one of the pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane which crashed while making an attempt to land in Karachi and the Air Traffic Controller have been recorded on a flight-tracking website.

In the audio clip posted by – a well-known website used by aviation watchers worldwide – the pilot of flight PK 8303 is heard saying he has lost both engines and then “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” the international distress message.

The Air Traffic Controller was attempting to guide the airliner, with 99 passengers and crew, down to make a landing after it had aborted a previous attempt to land. The pilot says he has lost both the engines on the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The conversation goes like this:

  • Pilot: PK 8303 [to] Approach
  • ATC: Ji Sir
  • Pilot: We are to be turning left?
  • ATC: Confirmed
  • Pilot: We are proceeding direct, we have lost both the engines.
  • ATC: Confirm you are carrying out a belly landing?
  • Pilot: (Unclear)
  • ATC: Runway available to land on 2 5
  • Pilot: Roger
  • Pilot: Sir, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Pakistan 8303
  • ATC: Pakistan 8303, Roger Sir. Both runways are available to land.

That’s where the audio cuts off.

Moments later, the PIA plane crashed into a residential area of Karachi on Friday, with many feared dead, officials said.

Smoke billowed at the scene where flight PK 8303 came down, some rooves were caved in, and debris lay scattered in streets as ambulances rushed through chaotic crowds of people.

“The areoplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” witness Shakeel Ahmed told news agency Reuters near the site, just a few kilometres short of the airport.

The jet, which tracking website identified as a 15-year-old Airbus A320, was flying from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi in the south just as Pakistan was resuming domestic flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The last we heard from the pilot was that he has some technical problem,” the state carrier’s spokesman Abdullah H. Khan said in a video statement.

“He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round … It is a very tragic incident,” he said.

Read: Pakistan International Airlines plane with around 100 people onboard crashes in Karachi seconds before landing