Friday, July 27, 2012

Second anniversary of AirBlue crash: Airbus A321-231, AP-BJB, Flight ABQ 202 - Margalla Hills near Islamabad-Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Pakistan

Editorial - Letter 

 KARACHI: Today marks the second anniversary of the tragic plane crash of AirBlue Flight 202. My young son died in the plane crash. The families of the victims of the crash have yet to be afforded an appropriate closure since the anguish and agony of suspense as to what was the truth continues. They wake up every morning and remember someone on the plane who is no longer in this world.

Even after almost two years, time does not matter. But knowing what caused the crash does. The families of the victims of the Bhoja Airline crash of Flight 213, which happened in April this year also continue to suffer in silence. According to psychological experts (the so-called Kubler-Ross model), there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The model does not suggest that the timeline is linear or that the stages are evenly spread out.

In case of the Air Blue crash, a truncated and misleading report saw the light of the day only after a long legal battle. The honorable Peshawar High Court (PHC) termed the report incomplete, inconclusive and full of errors. The report neither has evidence of any claim nor carries any details of transcripts of vital evidence such as recordings of the cockpit voice recorder or the aircraft’s black box. The honorable PHC has to be commended for its courage on this issue.

By comparison, in the case of the Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, which crashed in the Pacific Ocean over two  years ago (killing all 228 people on board),  the black box was found from the deep sea bed after a search spanning 23 months and costing about $40 million. After that, the relatives of victims were gathered and briefed about the exact reasons behind the tragedy.

Whatever the reasons for the Air Blue and Bhoja plane crashes, the relatives of the victims deserve to know the truth. So do the people of Pakistan. Furthermore, aviation safety can only be strengthened by making public the reasons why these two aircraft crashed. Hiding the truth does not help anyone, other than perhaps, those who want to continue with what clearly seems to be a cover-up. Unless the truth is known and appropriate measures taken for air safety, such disasters will happen again.

Umar Farooq

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.