Accessibility links

Breaking News

Officials Begin Investigation of Pakistan Plane Crash That Killed 97

People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of the Friday crash of a state-run Pakistan International Airlines plane, in Karachi, Pakistan, May 27, 2020.

Pakistani officials announced that local and French officials were investigating the origins of last week’s plane crash that left 97 people dead.

The Airbus A370 jet, owned and operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), crashed near the Karachi airport Friday while arriving from Lahore. Only two passengers survived, including bank executive Zafar Masood.

French investigators have joined the Pakistani initiative because the 15-year-old Airbus jet was designed in France, Reuters reported.

Examiners initially suspected that engine failure caused the crash, although the teams emphasized that such reports were preliminary.

One person familiar with the inquiry told Reuters the inspectors would closely review the CFM56 engines, one of which allegedly plunged into the side of a building.

The plane had passed a maintenance check as recently as April 28, the Associated Press reported.

“We are providing all possible assistance to the technical experts of Airbus,” said Abdul Hafeez, a spokesman for PIA.

Pilot was reportedly warned

The Times of India reported Tuesday that the pilot had ignored three warnings from air traffic controllers before crashing into a residential neighborhood and causing a deadly explosion.

The AP said on-the-ground deaths had not been reported, although eight people were injured and 18 homes sustained damage.

The flight data recorder has been recovered, although investigators said they had not yet concluded a sufficient analysis.

The crash came as PIA has been struggling both internally and externally, amid a global aviation crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

According to CNN, PIA has endured a succession of nine chief executives in the past 12 years and possesses liabilities in excess of $2.48 billion. Bloomberg recently predicted the airline would file for bankruptcy within two years.

Additionally, the airline is embroiled in a political conflict over the role of its current CEO, Arshad Mahmood Malik, who also holds the rank of air marshal in the Pakistan air force. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Malik could retain his position as long as he was not recalled by the air force, according to CNN.

Pakistan lifted months-long travel bans and lockdown restrictions days before the crash in preparation for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.