Pakistan begins aircraft inspections after Bhoja Air crash

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Published: April 26, 2012

Inspections of all aircraft operated by privately owned Pakistani carriers are being carried out after the crash of a Boeing 737-200 operated by Bhoja Air on 20 April.

The “shake down” inspection involves aircraft selected at random or offered by the airlines for checks, says a Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan (CAAP) official. The inspection will also cover aircraft maintenance activities.

State-owned Pakistan International Airlines is not subject to increased scrutiny, with the official indicating that its aircraft had been examined prior to the “unfortunate incident”. No timeline has been given for completion of the inspections, which the official says is primarily aimed at giving the Pakistani public an “extra confidence level” in the safety of the country’s carriers.

Private Pakistani airlines such as Airblue, Rayyan Air, Shaheen Air International and Bhoja Air operate a total of 26 passenger aircraft, according to Flightglobal ACAS data. These comprise five Airbus A320-family aircraft, 17 Boeing 737s – both older Classics and NGs – one Boeing MD-90 and three Boeing 747-200s.

Meanwhile, Pakistani search and rescue teams have recovered the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the debris of the 737-200 involved in the crash, and handed them over to the CAAP.

All 121 passengers and six crew members on board died in the incident, which took place about four miles from the capital’s Benazir Bhutto International airport while the aircraft was on a scheduled service from Karachi.

There was bad weather with heavy rain and a low cloud ceiling at the time of the incident, although the head of the CAAP was quoted in local newspapers as saying that another aircraft landed safely five minutes before the crash.

The 737-200 (AP-BKC) was a 1984-built airframe, previously operated by British Airways and Comair. Bhoja Air bought the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-powered 737 in January 2012 and it entered service with the airline on 3 March. The Karachi-based airline resumed operations that month, having suspended services for several years because of financial difficulties.

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