Pakistan International Airlines Flight 661
AP-BHO, the aircraft involved in the accident, in 2011
|Date||7 December 2016|
|Summary||Engine failure, under investigation|
|Site||Near Havelian, Pakistan|
|Aircraft type||ATR 42-500|
|Operator||Pakistan International Airlines|
|IATA flight No.||PK661|
|ICAO flight No.||PIA661|
|Call sign||PAKISTAN 661|
|Flight origin||Chitral Airport, Chitral, Pakistan|
|Destination||Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad, Pakistan|
On 7 December 2016, Pakistan International Airlines Flight 661, a domestic passenger flight from Chitral to Islamabad, Pakistan, operated by an ATR 42-500 twin-turboprop, crashed near Havelian. All 47 people on board died, including singer-turned-preacher and entrepreneur Junaid Jamshed, and the Deputy Commissioner of the District of Chitral.
The aircraft involved in the accident was an ATR 42-500, serial number 663, registration AP-BHO, delivered to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in 2007. In 2009, the aircraft was damaged during a landing attempt at Lahore, but was subsequently repaired and returned to service. It sustained an engine failure in 2014, but the engine was replaced and no further problems were reported. By the time of the crash, it had recorded more than 18,700 flight hours since joining PIA's fleet and had last undergone certification in October 2016.
The aircraft left Chitral Airport at 3:30 PST and was expected to land at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad at around 4:40. Before the crash, the crew issued a mayday call. The aircraft crashed at about 4:15 leaving wreckage ablaze on the side of a hill between the villages of Saddha Batolni and Gug, near the Pakistan Ordnance Factory in Havelian in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province about 90 kilometres (56 mi) from the airport. The wreckage was reported to be strewn over an area about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) across. According to an eyewitness, Mohammad Haroon, the aircraft flew at a very low altitude and made a high-pitched noise, flying in an erratic, up-and-down mode before crashing into the hillside. "There was a huge bang after the plane hit the mountainside and caught fire".
Announcements were broadcast by local mosques to mobilise villagers, who rushed to the site to look for survivors but were unable to get close due to the heat of the fire. Pakistan Army personnel and helicopters were also sent to the area for search and rescue operations. Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official, stated that all the bodies were burned beyond recognition. The remains were taken by air to forensic laboratories in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for DNA testing to aid identification.
This was the seventh aircraft accident resulting in hull loss sustained by PIA since 2000. Of the previous six, one resulted in fatalities; that of PIA Flight 688 in 2006, in which 45 people died.
Passengers and crew
The flight manifest showed that there were five flight crew (the captain, first officer and a trainee pilot; and two flight attendants) and forty-two passengers (forty adults and two infants) on board the aircraft. Forty-four were Pakistani citizens; and the others were two Austrians and one Chinese. The dead included Pakistani singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed who was travelling with his second wife Nayha Junaid; a member of Chitral's traditional royal family, his wife and family. Two sky marshals and one Aircraft Maintenance Engineer were also among the passengers. The captain was reported to be an experienced pilot with over 12,000 flight hours during his career. He was also a type-rated instructor for ATR aircraft.
Investigators retrieved the aircraft's flight recorder soon after the crash. An initial report into the accident by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) was said to have determined that the aircraft's left engine malfunctioned at an altitude of 13,375 feet (4,077 m). The pilot reported the engine failure at 16:12, which was followed by a rapid uncontrolled descent and the disappearance of the aircraft from ground radar a few minutes later. However, the radio communication continued with radar even after disappearance from the screen of the radar.
Following an incident involving an ATR 72 at Multan Airport on 11 December, the PCAA ordered all ATR aircraft belonging to PIA to be grounded for inspection. Five ATR 42 and five ATR 72 aircraft were affected by the order.
Early reports speculated that the failed engine exploded and compromised the airframe, leading to the crash, but they have not been substantiated. Analysis of the black box data was continuing as of January 2017, with the reasons that the aircraft was not able to safely land on the functioning engine still unknown.
A one-page preliminary report of the Safety Investigation Board found a 'lapse' on the part of the PIA and a 'lack of oversight' by the PCAA.
Following the crash, PIA received criticism of its practices and accusations that it did not investigate aircraft defects thoroughly enough. The mother of the ATR 42's first officer reported that he frequently mentioned to her that PIA's aircraft "are not fit to fly, and they should not be allowed to operate on dangerous routes".
Two days after the crash, another PIA pilot reportedly refused to fly an aircraft with a faulty engine. This was after several reports that PIA had a history of neglecting problems and of operating poorly overall as an airline. PIA responded that "it defies common sense that pilots and engineers would fly an aircraft that does not meet safety standards and risk their own lives."
The chairman of PIA Azam Saigol resigned 6 days after the crash citing personal reasons, though there were reports of him being pressured to resign.
- "Pakistan International Airways flight 'crashes in north'". BBC News. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Pakistani plane with more than 40 people aboard crashes in north: police". Reuters. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "PIA flight #PK661 crashes, 'bodies burned beyond recognition'". RT. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Flight PK661 Incident" (Press release). Pakistan International Airlines. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
42 (Male:31, Female:09, Infant:02) Including 02 Austrians and 01 Chinese
- "PIA Crash: All 47 Aboard Reported Dead, Blackbox Recovered". The Quint. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "PIA plane crash: All 47 on board killed; Pakistani pop star among victims". CNN. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Hradecky, Simon (7 December 2016). "Crash: PIA AT42 near Abbottabad on Dec 7th 2016, engine problems". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "ATR 42/72 – MSN 663 – AP-BHO". Airfleets. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- Ashgar, Mohammed (9 December 2016). "Initial report says PK-661's left engine malfunctioned". Dawn. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- Zahra-Malik, Mehreen; Hashim, Asad (8 December 2016). "Pakistan mourns 47 killed in air crash, as investigators seek answers". Reuters. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "PIA plane crashes near Abbottabad, all passengers feared dead". The News. The News International. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- Shahzad, Asif; Ahmed, Munir (8 December 2016). "Pakistan opens probe into deadly plane crash that killed 47". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Javed, Rashid; Ali, Manzoor (8 December 2016). "Nation in grief over airliner tragedy". Dawn. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Davies, Greg. "ATR crash is PIA's tenth hull loss since 2000". Flightglobal. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Samples for DNA testing of three foreigners' bodies not yet received". DAWN.COM. 10 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Passenger list of crashed PIA flight PK-661". Dawn. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Junaid Jamshed, Pakistan's pop pioneer turned preacher, dead at 52".
- "Shock and Horror". Daily Times. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Sadaqat, Muhammad (8 December 2016). "Flight PK-661: No survivors". The Express Tribune.
- "Pakistan grounds ATR fleet for inspections". Aviation Safety Network. Flight Safety Foundation. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Bilal, Dawn.com | Mohammad (12 January 2017). "Aviation authority shares findings of black box report for Abbottabad plane crash". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- "Safety body blames PIA, CAA for 2016 air crash". Dawn. 12 January 2019.
- "PK-661: Mother says late first officer complained of unfit planes". www.geo.tv. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Pilots, engineers flying faulty aircraft 'defies common sense': PIA". Dawn. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Pakistan International Airlines chairman resigns days after plane crash". Reuters. 13 December 2016.
|Wikinews has related news: PIA flight crashes near Havelian, Pakistan|