Disaster in the sky

Disaster in the sky

The crash of Bhoja Air’s Boeing 737-200 killing 127 people aboard, including six members of the crew comes as a huge shock for the entire nation in the wake of Siachen tragedy.

As distraught families scrambled Friday evening to get information and access to the remains of their near and dear ones, others have been trying to make sense of it all.Questions are being raised whether or not it could have been prevented.The crash has brought back memories of the Airblue disaster that took place just two years ago, ie in July 2010, killing all 152 people on board.Inevitably, people are looking at the similarities between the two incidents and wondering whether the cause has something to do with laxity on the part of aviation authorities.

Or it is a mere coincidence that both planes belonged to private companies and were flying from Karachi to Islamabad, and went down in bad weather while preparing to land at the same Airport.Aviation experts offering opinion to the media seem to agree that weather conditions, most likely wind shear, may have caused the crash.Many witnesses also say that the plane’s rear was already on fire when it suddenly came down.Weather-related challenges, of course, are not peculiar to Islamabad.

Planes all over the world fly in all sorts of turbulent conditions, knowing how to avoid them.They are equipped to detect threats and avoid them.In the present case, there are some obvious questions that beg answers such as did the pilot know that the conditions were not safe for landing? If yes, why did he decide to go for it? These are important questions in view of some of the press reports that suggest that flight safety rules and procedures were seriously compromised by the CAA officials before allowing Bhoja to restart its operations.

It is pertinent to mention here that in such weather conditions, the standard operating procedure for pilots is to land at an alternative airport.The Bhoja Air flight could have landed at the Lahore Airport.That it did not could mean: a) that the plane’s instruments did not work properly; or b) Bhoja being a budget airline, the SOP did not permit use of costly fuel for additional flying between Islamabad and Lahore.

It would be unfair, however, to make any conclusive judgments pending proper inquiry.The ill-fated plane’s black box has been found.It will take a while before its contents are fully decoded, and the real cause of the crash established.The Boeing Company has offered help with the investigations.It is hoped that the inquiry will be held in an impartial and transparent manner.Its outcome must be made public, along with that of the Airblue tragedy, so that the people know what went wrong and why.If the loss of so many precious lives is the result of some compromises at the expense of public safety, those responsible must be handed exemplary punishments. – Brecorder