A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) official has finally admitted that the plane crash near Havelian in 2016 had been the consequence of a technical fault.
PIA’s Technical Director confessed this on Tuesday before a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) that included Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.
The bench heard the case about the investigation into PIA’s flight PK-661 in which forty-eight passengers including Junaid Jamshed and the former DC Chitral had died.
The official informed the court that the fault had occurred in the left engine of the plane and that the other engine had been working properly at the time of the crash.
When the court inquired about the turbine blades that had malfunctioned, the official responded that it had been due to a fault in the design of the aircraft.
“We have learned a lesson from the incident,” he added.
However, the court rebuked the official saying, “People spend money on tickets, but what is the use if their lives are at risk?”.
Justice Mazhar asked if the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had identified the person responsible for the fault in its investigation report.
“You let the plane fly despite it having a technical fault. Who is responsible for it?” the court questioned.
The court also inquired about whether PIA had ensured that the rest of its ATR aircraft were safe for travel after the accident.
The PIA official affirmed that all the necessary safety protocols are in place and that new software has been installed to aid in avoiding accidents.
Shahida Mansoor Janjua, the mother of the deceased pilot, Ahmed Mansoor Janjua, had claimed in court that her son had been forced to fly the defective plane in addition to being pressured into flying three flights a day.
“He was under pressure,” she had remarked. After the Assistant Advocate-General of Sindh referred to the CAA’s report in which PIA has been held responsible for the crash, the court reprimanded him over his ignorance of its contents.
“Why didn’t you read the report before the hearing? Don’t you want the report to be discussed here?” it demanded.
The SHC has postponed the hearing until 17 December and has ordered PIA and the other concerned parties to submit their replies in light of the new information.
It also directed PIA to submit the ATR’s maintenance report on the next date.