Friday, April 27, 2012

‘Bhool-ja’: Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200, AP-BKC, Flight B4-213, Islamabad, Pakistan

‘Bhool-ja’ is not the name of any airline. It means ‘forget it’. It represents a mindset, a mental inertia, of those who choose lip service over actions, cosmetics over contents, first aid over root causes and ‘buddyism’ over competence. When a state adopts this mindset as its official policy, a series of events begin to happen. Buddies become director generals and shakedown inspections replace stringent airworthiness requirements and procedures. Check out a Boeing 737-200 manual, and you will find daily checks, transit checks, B checks, C checks and D checks, but nowhere will you find ‘shakedown’ checks that have been recently ordered by the government to give out the impression that it is doing something important. ‘Bhool-ja’ is based on the belief that peoples’ memory, anger and emotions have a short shelf-life and can be easily pacified by lame statements such as “the PM and president have taken notice of the accident or they have ordered an enquiry”. That is where all matters come to an end.

For any accident to happen there ought to be immediate, contributory and root causes. The current buddy system has created leaders who are neither capable nor interested in determining the root causes. Although a system of permits, licenses, and approvals exists for most functions, they continue to remain poorly regulated. The aeroplane that crashed in Islamabad and killed 127 persons had all the licenses, approvals and airworthiness certificates. Only if these had been effective, there would have been no need to order the vague, superficial and frivolous ‘shakedown’ inspections.

We need to do away with the ‘bhool-ja’ approach, de-politicise our institutions and insist that they follow professional and ethical standards. Our Buddy Aviation Authority (BAA) is just not in the right business. It took it three years and two letters in the press to correct the spellings of what was written as ‘Perlimantrians’ at the Jinnah Airport’s check-in counter. An organization that cannot see dozens of people smoking in the lounges, and scores smoking on the concourse of the airport, can hardly be trusted to keep an eye on the engineering aspects of modern-day jet airliners.

Naeem Sadiq



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