Pilot distraction resulting from coronavirus worries cause fatal PIA A320 crash 

Pakistan International Airlines ©AirTeamImages

According to Pakistan minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, constant discussions between the two pilots on board the fateful flight which crashed just outside Karachi on May 22, killing 97 of the 99 crew and passengers on board Pakistan International Airlines , were the cause of the plane’s first, failed attempt to land as the undercarriage had been raised subsequent to its initial lowering. This caused both engines to strike the ground and subsequently fail as the plane circled round to attempt a second landing.

Recordings of the conversations between the two pilots in the moments prior to and up to the crash have revealed that the focus of their attention was on the COVID-19 pandemic. “The discussion throughout was about corona,” Mr Khan said, referring to a conversation between the pilot and co-pilot he had listened to on the cockpit voice recorder. “Corona was dominant over their mind. Their family was affected.” He added that: “Several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts, were disregarded,” and that: “The landing was undertaken with the landing gear retracted. The aircraft touched the runway surface on its engines.”

The report did not indicate there was any problem with the manding gear. The flight data showed the landing gear was lowered at 10 nautical miles but then raised again five nautical miles from the runway, which Mr Khan described as “beyond comprehension”.

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