PIA clean-up

In the aftermath of the rather bizarre crash in Karachi some time ago, PIA har fired a number of pilots with bogus licenses, challenged others and even fired some allegedly corrupt employees in the airline management. The airline has been banned from US and EU airspace until further and a few airlines have fired Pakistani pilots.

The crash, bringing attention to the substandard situation in PIA, is unprecedented in a major airline, and quite possibly in aviation as a whole. From available reports, where the fact that the aircraft landed with no landing gear and then crashed with its landing gear extended, at least one deduction can be made regarding the probable scenario. Normally it is unwise to speculate on what happened ahead of a full accident report, but the gear-up landing is an irrevocable fact.

The aircraft came in hot and high. (The pilots were most probably properly licensed.) The aircraft was a state of the art Airbus. The pilots refrained from embarrassing  deviations from the straight in approach, and here they obviously got target fascinated. Getting down no matter what required additional drag and the only extra option was the landing gear, which they extended around 7000 feet. The ATC controller advised them of what they already knew, and offered them some turns to lengthen the approach path, which was repeatedly rejected. Now everything became too difficult and where you normally bring down the gear for landing, they retracted it. The aircraft hollered and complained all the way down to the ground, but obviously the brain can shut out what is undesirable. The tower controller said nothing to help, and they landed on their engine pods. The immediate reaction was to get out of there, and they made an effort to go around, where in retrospect staying down would have saved lives. That they were deeply disturbed is not unlikely, since they – where you normally retract the landing gear in a go-around – they extended it. The engines were too damaged to sustain flight for more than a couple of minutes. Most lives onboard were lost in the ensuing crash.

The faulty gear sequence has happened to highly stressed military pilots, when an unextended landing gear has been advised by the tower controller, and in the go-around the gear has been extended where it normally is retracted. The traffic pattern has been flown with the gear extended, and then been retracted where it normally is extended, to the unlimited enjoyment of the tower controller, who again gently has informed the pilot of the value of a go-around.



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