Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fuel depletion may also be cause of crash: Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200, AP-BKC, Flight B4-213, Islamabad, Pakistan

Mumtaz Alvi
Monday, April 23, 2012


The plane tragedy in Islamabad has left behind a plethora of questions. Why and how the jet met the accident. If one goes by the past aviation history in Pakistan, facts that led to the precious loss of life Friday may never be known and remain confined to the official record or to a select group of persons who matter.

As happens in our part of the world, various ‘theories’ are making rounds since the eventful murky evening. But concrete information on the crash, may or may not reach the public.

Two aviation experts, who preferred not to be identified here, shared their views with The News. One of them said that rough weather could be singled out as the major reason behind one of the most tragic happenings in Pakistan’s history, while the other believed fuel depletion factor could not be overlooked.

One of them out rightly rejected that lightning might be the reason and also noted apparently the jet also did not catch fire, as the wreckage suggested. “The condition of plane wings, intact tyres, un-burnt seats, purses, mobile sets and even toys, it was not on fire while coming down,” he noted.

He continued on the face of it, fuel depletion was also evident from the type of wreckage being recovered. He added the plane, in a standard procedure, was supposed to carry enough fuel to go back from where it had taken off if a need arose but it was not so.

The expert noted the prescribed quantity of oil in the plane’s fuel tanks would have given a different look to the wreckage. “Perhaps, the pilot made up his mind to land the plane in view of fuel depletion despite rough weather and was probably trapped in microburst,” he maintained.

He explained: “A microburst is sinking air, producing damaging divergent and straight lines of winds at the surface. These are of two kinds: wet microburst and dry microburst. The scale and suddenness of a massive microburst causes a great danger to an aircraft and this might have brought the jet down”.

The expert noted the black box held the key, as recording would make the picture relatively clear regarding the events, which ultimately led to the plane crash. Like the Airblue Airline plane that met a horrible accident in July 2010, the Bhoja Air airbus also became a victim of weather.

The other expert said standing wheat crop in Hussainabad fields suggested that the plane faced fuel depletion otherwise these would have been turned to ashes within no time. Ostensibly, he added, the pilot could have attempted to he land as early as possible due to fuel factor.

However, he made it clear what he narrated was obviously his personal view and this could not be construed as the ultimate finding, as a judicial inquiry was already ordered to find out what exactly went wrong in this particular case.

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