Volunteers look for survivors of the passenger plane that crashed in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 22. Picture: AP Photo/Fareed Khan
Volunteers look for survivors of the passenger plane that crashed in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 22. Picture: AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Pilots were distracted by Covid-19 chat, says fatal airliner crash report

By Daily Mail and AP Time of article published Jun 25, 2020

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Two pilots were distracted by a conversation about the coronavirus before they crashed an airliner in Pakistan last month, killing 97, a report found.

Pakistan’s aviation minister said "human error" of the pilot, co-pilot and air traffic control caused the plane crash on May 22, which had just two survivors.

The report found the plane significantly damaged its engines during a failed landing attempt. The crash happened during the second attempt.

The plane went down on a neighbourhood near Jinnah airport, Karachi, days after Pakistan resumed domestic flights as it eased its lockdown.

During the first attempt at landing, the engines of the plane touched the ground as the landing gear was not down. The aircraft took off again for a second try but the pilots were not informed that the engines had scraped the runway, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told parliament on Wednesday.

"The discussion throughout was about corona," said Khan, referring to audio retrieved from the cockpit voice recorder, which shed light on the conversation between the pilot and the co-pilot. 

"Corona was dominant over their mind. Their family was affected. Several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts, were disregarded

"The landing was undertaken with landing gear retracted. The aircraft touched the runway surface on its engines."

The air traffic control cleared the aircraft to land without noticing that the landing gears were not extended, the report found. In addition to this, the pilots were not informed about any potential damage to the engines from the first landing attempt.

"When the plane took off again, both engines had been damaged; and when the plane was making an approach for a second landing, it didn't have that power and fell on the residential area," Khan added.

The minister added that the plane was "100 percent fit to fly" and the pilots, who were killed in the crash, were experienced and medically fit.

Daily Mail and AP

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