Pakistan International Airlines flight PK8303 crashes in Karachi

Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320
A PIA Airbus A320, similar to the aircraft involved in the crash. Photo: © Anna Zvereva

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 on flight PK8303 has crashed into a residential area shortly before landing in Karachi.

The flight was operating from Lahore (IATA: LHE) to Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport (IATA: KHI).

PIA has confirmed that there were 99 people on board, consisting of 91 passengers, two pilots, and six cabin crew members. Pakistani officials reported on May 23 that 97 people, including all crew members, have died in the accident and two passengers survived the crash who have been transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. Multiple residents of the buildings which the aircraft crashed into were also transported to hospitals, a total of eight people were injured on the ground, three of the seriously.

Videos from the crash site posted on social media show smoke rising from a built-up area near the airport. The Airbus A320 crashed while being on its second final approach, following an earlier go-around. In recordings, the pilots can be heard declaring a ‘Mayday’ emergency with Air Traffic Control (ATC) due to engine problems during the second attempt to land. The CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) and FDR (Flight Data Recorder) have been recovered from the crash site.

The 15 year-old aircraft was registered in Pakistan as AP-BLD. It had been stored for the past two months and only started flying again three days ago after Pakistan lifted its temporary commercial flights ban to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Flight tracking sites, which are typically a valuable source for replaying and analyzing a precise flight path an aircraft flew prior to a crash, were unable to provide detailed data on this accident, as the aircraft was apparently not equipped with an ADS-B transponder, a global standard for flight tracking. However, the height of the aircraft during the flight and final approach were recorded, showing the aircraft descended rapidly and at a much steeper angle than a normal approach into Karachi’s runway 25L.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority also reported that scrape marks from both engines of the aircraft were found on the runway, lasting for approximately 2000-3000 feet. These findings are in line with damage seen on the undersides of both engines on two photos which show the aircraft during the go-around and with a deployed Ram Air Turbine.

Reaction

Quickly reacting to the accident, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) stated it is “saddened by the tragic loss of life“. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan commented on Twitter that he is in touch with the CEO of Pakistan International Airlines who is on his way to the crash site. Meanwhile, the airline changed its website into black and white colors.

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus said it will be fully cooperating with French and Pakistani officials in the investigation into the crash.

Government-owned PIA is the largest airline in Pakistan and operates a fleet of over 30 aircraft, including twelve Airbus A320s.

This is a developing story. Updates to follow.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE