Saturday, April 21, 2012

Analysis: More crashes but no lessons learnt - Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200, AP-BKC, Flight B 213, Islamabad, Pakistan

Bhoja Air flight B 213 crashed about 4 nautical miles (roughly 8 kilometers) from Islamabad’s runway 30. The plane crashed near Hussainabad in the vicinity of land belonging to Bahria Town, located towards east of Chaklala Airport. The aircraft should have been 3,900 feet at 9 nautical miles on an ILS approach for Runway 30. At 4 NM – where the aircraft crashed, this aircraft should have been between 1,500 and 1,800 feet. The aircraft that went down was a Boeing 737-200, amongst the first generation of aircraft of the Boeing 737 series. The first test flight of this class of aircraft was conducted on August 8, 1967 and the first aircraft with seating capacity of 100 was delivered to United Airlines in December 1967, while the advanced Boeing 737-200 with improved aerodynamics was produced in 1971. This series of Boeing 737-200 ceased production in 1988.

The captain of the aircraft, Captain Noorullah Afridi, was a retired air force pilot who belonged to the 60 GDP batch. He had started his commercial aviation career with Shaheen Airlines and had an airline experience of over 12 years.

Pilots of budget airlines are under tremendous pressure to land at their destinations, because of high cost of fuel, which consumes almost 50% to 60% of their operating expenditures. Aged aircraft with fuselages that have weakened either due to corrosion or metal fatigue require modifications to strengthen them.

It is reported that this aircraft had a defect and must have been cleared by CAA to operate this flight. This particular aircraft had a fuselage whose hull life had expired and should have undergone exhaustive maintenance and modifications recommended by manufacturers Boeing before it was cleared to resume commercial flight operations by CAA Pakistan.

At the time of crash which was around 6.40PM there was heavy rain, with thunderstorm and lightning. The cumulonimbus cloud, also known as “CB cloud” can form alone, in clusters, or along a cold front in a squall line. They can create lightning and other dangerous weather. Cumulonimbus clouds form from cumulus clouds (namely from cumulus congestus) and can further develop into a “supercell”, a severe thunderstorm with special features.

An aircraft flying below adverse weather conditions experiences heavy down drafts, which can cause these aircraft to lose height, which seems to be the case in this instance, because the ill-fated aircraft was on its approach path.

The type of debris suggests that the aircraft in most probability crashed on impact. It is also possible that an engine might have flamed out, or a fuel tank ruptured, or impairment of flight controls occurred due to hydraulic failure and even a major damage to its fuselage.

The role of an effective regulatory body, which should have the expertise and competence of highly qualified inspectors with rich experience on type of aircraft that they are assigned to inspect and certify, becomes all the more important when low cost budget airlines – hard pressed to cut costs – are allowed to operate.

Unfortunately the Civil Aviation Authority, which comes under the Ministry of Defence, has become a welfare organization for retired officers. CAA, which is a profitable corporation, acts on behalf of ICAO to regulate all commercial airline operators, their aircraft as well as the proficiency of flight and maintenance crew. ICAO requires that all executives of regulatory body and their inspectors should have no affiliations or get any emoluments or benefits from airlines that they inspect. CAA can only perform this task if it hires the best and most qualified of aviation personnel who do not have any conflict of interests with airlines under their regulatory control. The true facts and causes will only be revealed if an investigation is carried out by an independent, qualified and experienced team of accident investigators, which unfortunately is missing and is a major reason why a credible and exhaustive investigation report has never been issued for accidents involving commercial aircraft within Pakistan airspace.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.

ISLAMABAD: Below is the list issued by Bhoja Air of the Passengers who were on board the ill-fated Flight 213.

The Captain of the Flight was, Captain Noorullah Afridi, First Officer Javed Malik, Purser Ghazala Malik, Air Hostess Princes Flavia, Air Hostess Sanam Farid.

The Passengers on board this flight were:
1. Abbas Ali
2. Abida Javed Malik
3. Adeel Chughtai
4. Aiman Ikram
5. Altamash Khan
6. Anisa Akbar
7. Anum Hussain
8. Asif Aftab
9. Asmaa Ahmad
10. Ataur Rehman
11. Azizur Rehman
12. Baqir Mehdi
13. Bibi Hameeda
14. Chand Baboo
15. Chd Faiq
16. Dilshad Kamaal
17. Dr Abdul Qadir
18. Dr Asadullah
19. Fahira Laiq
20. Farah Sajid
21. Fatima
22. Fehmeeda Zubair
23. Ghulam Farooq Qasmi
24. Ghulam Rehman
25. Gul
26. Gul Faraz
27. Gul Sharif Jana
28. Gul Zaman
29. Habibur Rehman
30. Hafeezur Rehman
31. Hafsa Chughtai
32. Hafsa Shahid
33. Haleema Sadia
34. Hamida Khadima Baloch
35. Haris Haris
36. Husun Nisa
37. Imran Waheed
38. Irfan Ali
39. Javed Akhtar Malik
40. Javed Iqbal
41. Kalo Abbasi
42. Khwaja Raziuddin
43. Liauqat Ali
44. Masooda Begum
45. Mishir Jan
46. Mohammad Atiq Khan
47. Mrs Mohammad Latif
48. Mohammad Latif
49. Moiz Sadiq
50. Mrs Khalida
51. Ms Yumna
52. Muhammad Abdul Hafeez
53. Muhamad Anwar Khan
54. Muhammad Ashfaq Khan
55. Muhammad Farooq
56. Muhammad Irfan
57. Muhammad Irfan
58. Muhammad Qasim
59. Muhammad Shahnawaz
60. Muhammad Sohail
61. Muhammad Younus
62. Muhammada Abdullah
63. Mujtaba Siyal
64. Mukhan Jan
65. Munawar Sultana
66. Musarrat Shaheen
67. Nadir Khan Fazaldad
68. Nasreen
69. Nazmeen
70. Nighat Mehdi
71. Nihaluddin Alvi
72. Nisar Ahmed
73. Nuzhat
74. Qamar Aftab
75. Qari Muhammad Abdul Rahman
76. Rakh Shanda
77. Rakhshanda
78. Rashida Rehman
79. Raza Ali Khan Feroz
80. Ree Han
81. SM Saud Ishaq
82. Saba Amber
83. Sadaf Baloch
84.Sadaf Tanveer
85. Saeed Khan
86. Saeeda Akhtar
87. Sania Abbas
88. Sarah Chughtai
89. Sardar Shah
90. Sarwat Mumtaz
91. Shabbir Ahmad Awan
92. Shahid Iqbal
93. Shamima Abdullah
94. Shazia Baloch
95. Sobia Ubaid
96. Suleiman Chughtai
97. Sumaiyah Chughtai
98. Syed Muhammad Amjad
99. Syed Muhammad Rizwan
100. Syed Omar Ali
101. Syed Sajjad Ali Rizvi
102. Syeda Amjad Shaheen
103. Syeda Rizwan Sufia
104. Tabbasum Sarwat
105. Tabia Rehman
106. Talat Mahmood Qureshi
107. Tanveer Jan
108. Tariq Mehmood
109. Tasadouq Mahmood
110. Tasneem Begum
111. Tuba Shewar
112. Usman Rahim
113. Usman Rasheed
114. Uzma Inam
115. Wajat Abbasi
116. Waji Ha
117. Yasmin Muhammad Sultan
118. Zaheer Shah
119. Zahida Aziz
120. Zaibun Nisa
121. Zuhra Begum
Passenger break up : Adults 110, Children 6, Infants 5.

Boeing 737-200 banned in several countries 
LAHORE – The Bhoja Airlines plane that crashed near Chaklala Airbase, killing all the passengers on-board, was a more than 40 years old version of the Boeing.The ‘obsolete’ version Boeing 737-200 has either been banned or phased out in many countries of the world.It includes the United States, while the EU has banned many airlines from Africa and Asia, which still use this aircraft.

The real cause of the tragedy could only be established after analysing the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), said an aviation expert on Friday. He said it would be premature to say something about the cause of incident before decoding the FDR and CVR.He was of the view that through the CVR recordings, experts could examine the last 30-minute conversation between the pilot and the Air Traffic Control (ATC), which help establishing the reason behind the crash.

Apparently, there could be two reasons behind the crash. Firstly, it might be pilot’s error who all of the sudden enter into active weather due to which plane fell on ground within no time. Secondly, lightening could also have struck the plane due to which it caught fire and later crashed, as possibility seconded by some eyewitnesses, who said they saw the plane on fire in the air.Some circles in the CAA were of the view that it could be a human error but a PIA pilot seeking anonymity said Chief Pilot Noor Afridi was experienced and had also served in the PAF and Shaheen Airlines also.

Some others said although the Bhoja Airlines received the licence from the CAA to operate these old planes, but the reasoning behind the move was unknown reasons.The airline is based in Karachi and operates on a small domestic network. It ceased operations in 2000 due to financial difficulties and succumbed to numerous debts. It was re-launched in 2011, while the first flight operated on March 6 this year.

As of this month, its fleet consisted of four Boeing 737-200, including AP-BKC, AP-BKD, ZS-NNH re-registered as AP-BKE and AP-BKF. On November 07, 1993, the Bhoja Air started operations on domestic routes between Karachi, Lahore and Quetta with a leased Boeing 737-20.It was registered in Pakistan making Bhoja the first private airline in the country to operate a Western-manufactured aircraft. On January 24, 1998 Bhoja Air commenced international flights from Karachi to Dubai. Later, it operated flights to the UAE from all major cities of Pakistan. However due to financial difficulties Bhoja Air suspended its operations in 2000, although its licence remained valid and it maintained a fully functional head office in Karachi.

This news was published in print paper. Access complete paper of this day.

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