Pakistan International Airlines A320 Crashes In Karachi

Filed Under: Other Airlines

This is absolutely tragic, especially as it comes just days after domestic flights resumed in Pakistan (they resumed this past Saturday after a two month suspension), and right at the end of Ramadan, as many people are traveling to see loved ones.

A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 has crashed today. The flight was operated by a plane with the registration code AP-BLD, which is a 16 year old aircraft that was delivered in 2004. The plane joined PIA’s fleet in 2014, after operating for China Eastern for roughly a decade.

There were 98 people onboard, including 90 passengers and eight crew members. It’s not yet known how many fatalities there were, both among those on the plane, as well as those on the ground, given that the plane crashed into a populated residential area.

PIA flight 8303 was flying from Lahore to Karachi. This is a roughly 635 mile flight that was supposed to take around 90 minutes, and arrive at 2:30PM local time.

The incident happened on landing — the plane made a landing attempt at Karachi Airport and descended to below 300 feet, at which point the pilots aborted the landing. The crew had reported problems with the gear. The plane then climbed to over 3,000 feet, at which point the plane started to lose altitude and disappeared from radar.

Before the plane disappeared from radar the pilots had reported a “mayday” to aircraft control, noting that they had “lost engines.”

You can listen to the ATC audio from the flight here:

  • At around 4min45sec into the recording you can hear the pilot reporting the go around
  • At around 9min5sec the pilot reports that the plane has “lost engines”
  • At around 9min30sec the pilot reports “mayday, mayday, mayday,” and ATC informs him that both runways are available for the airplane to land
  • That’s the last that’s heard from PK8303

PIA’s last major crash was on December 7, 2016, when an ATR 42-500 crashed while enroute from Chitral to Islamabad, killing all 47 people onboard.

Absolutely tragic, and my thoughts are with those onboard and their families…

(Featured image courtesy of Anna Zvereva)

  1. This is just awful. Eid is supposed to be on Monday. With many businesses closed in Pakistan, I just know many on board were going to see family, if not all.

  2. Condolences to all those involved in this tragic incident.
    2020 hasn’t been great for the aviation industry, we first had the shootdown of Ukrainian Airlines PS752, then the Pegasus Airlines crash in Istanbul and a few more incidents and then came, the massive grounding of planes across the world. While I can say, this is still quite super early for us to conclude the cause of the crash, I guess, the cause of the crash is all rooted in the grounding of the fleet. Remember when we learn that when planes are grounded, enough precautions have to be taken so as to ensure the protection of sensors, radars so that the airlines won’t be facing technical snags in airplanes once they resume operations? They must not have taken enough precautions which might have caused sensor errors and malfunction of the landing gear. The engines could’ve stopped working altogether (much like US Airways flight 1549), but given the ATC recording, we can rule out possible bird strikes. I don’t know, I could be mistaken. Feel free to correct me here.

  3. At 18:15 in the video you can see the densely populated area where the jet crashed. I always land in Karachi during the early hours of the morning and this was one of those times I got there during daylight. RIP those who perished.

  4. Fuel starvation immediately comes to mind as does fuel contamination.

    I’d be curious to know how the a/c was stored for two months during the lockdown.

    I’d also be curious to know the crew’s recency…being offline for two months and coming right back to work means they may not have been sharp.

    All speculation, of course, but if there are lessons to be learned from this incident I hope it prevents other fatalities.

    My condolences to all.

  5. The residential area the plane crashed into is quite densely populated, as is most of the area around the airport. There are reports of houses being engulfed in flames. It seems very likely that there were casualties on the ground unfortunately.

    If maintenance comes into play here, that would be very bad for PIA. Especially with their new CEO who was doing pretty good with turning the airline around.

  6. Lucky, may I suggest please try not to quote media like China’s Global Times, or Russian Today? They’re state sponsored, heavily handed propaganda machine, and you can see the original poster’s video links is listed under the tweet of global times.

  7. @Jason

    If “fuel starvation” means run out of fuel, it’s very unlikely from all the smoke. If you mean fuel never made it to the engines that is quite possible.

    For me, I think due to the go-around, the pilots might have made some configuration mistakes.

  8. @Ethan

    I only trust Fox News. But at least Ben included a stock photo of the plane involved. No other media outlet did that. Some even only mentioned Airbus and not the plane model. So this is a good report.

  9. When hundreds of aircrafts come back to the skies after months of storage, should we expect an increase in maintenance related incidents and accidents globally?

  10. @Eskimo

    Yes…the ensuing fire means that something burned so fuel starvation is questionable.

    Some reports say that they made multiple landing attempts so that’s why I think fuel might be a factor…including contamination or even ice (as we saw with the BA 777).

    I also agree with you on configuration and that’s why I mentioned recency. Could the CA have asked for power and the FO inadvertently reduced power? It’s happened before in high stress situations.

  11. People mentioning fuel starvation etc.. should also research that this exact plane was used for repatriation flights over last two month 5 or 6 times most recently as last weeek

    MUSCAT TO Lahore, Pakistan

  12. @Jason

    I thought of BA38 incident too when you said fuel but that was LHR in January. It’s safe to say there shouldn’t be anything frozen at Karachi this time of the year.

    It could be auto-throttle at idle and pilots thought they the lost engine. Millions of possible theory at the moment. I remember there was an accident where the altimeter failed so autopilot thinks it already landed and idle the engines.

  13. I have been worried about this for a few weeks now. Airplanes, especially airliners, are meant to fly regularly and when they dont extra care must be taken in returning them to service. Not saying this was the case here but hopefully airlines will take extra care when returning thier parked aircraft back into service.

  14. @Umair Faisal – The plane had been in service, but based on what I can see all of those flights were from this past Saturday onwards, when Pakistan opened up domestic air travel again. Though this A320 did go to Muscat but that flight was a day prior to this crash. So it is likely they stored this aircraft, but I could be wrong.

  15. There are two confirmed survivors right now.
    The plane crashed on roof of houses , which were in dense community and the street leading into those houses is very narrow

  16. Fuel may have been intentionally ‘dumped’ for landing.
    Also a mention of ‘belly’ landing was heard.

  17. Also comments elsewhere seems to suggest the pilots where wheels up before last attempted landing/go around but the crash video seems to show wheels down

    Much to investigate!!

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