ATR-42 take-off from Multan aborted, plane grounded

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MULTAN / RAWALPINDI / ABBOTTABAD: Five days after a PIA aircraft went down near Havelian killing all 47 people on board, another ATR-42 flight of the Pakistan International Airlines grabbed headlines on Sunday night when its pilot aborted the take-off of the Multan-Karachi flight.

The plane, carrying 48 people, was grounded because of some fault in one of its engines.

PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said the pilot observed some fault in an engine and brought the plane back to the bay after informing the air traffic control.

He said on the direction of the PIA’s chief operating officer, the plane has temporarily been groun­ded as a precautionary measure.

He said a team of engineers was being sent to Multan from Karachi and the aircraft would be made operational after its clearance.

Mr Gilani said that outstation passengers had been provided hotel accommodation till the next available flight. He denied media reports that flight PK-581’s engine had caught fire.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said the flight had been cancelled because of some fault in the plane.

He denied some TV reports that the entire ATR fleet of the PIA had been grounded.

At a press conference recently, the PIA chairman said that the national flag carrier had been operating 11 ATRs before the plane crash near Havelian on Wednesday. He said that one of the planes had already been grounded before the crash.

The PIA spokesman on Sunday said: “After the Multan incident, the number of ATR planes has reduced to eight.”

Manufacturer’s team

A special team of the France-based turboprop aircraft manufacturer ATR will reach Islamabad on Monday to assist the Pakistani authorities investigating Wednesday’s plane crash near Havelian.

An official of the Aviation Division told Dawn that all the evidence collected from the site would be shared with the visiting team.

“The four-member team — two of them associated with the ATR aircraft manufacturer and two from the engine manufacturing company — will stay in Pakistan for two to four days,” he said.

The official said the team would meet those associated with the investigation and see the evidence collected.

“We will provide the foreign team all the parts and equipment collected from the crash site, if they desired to take them along with them,” the official said.

He said the authorities had the lists of all the evidence collected and the special team might not visit the site due to “security reasons”.

Answering a question, the official said: “The inquiry may take time because foreign technical assistance, decoding of the ‘black box’ of the ATR-42 aircraft and verification of some other important things are involved. We have to find the exact cause of the crash and also if there was negligence on the part of any individual.”

The ATR manufacturer had offered assistance in the inquiry. “The officials of the ATR contacted the PIA for the assistance in the probe into the plane crash and we conveyed this offer to the Safety Investigation Board (SIB) of the Aviation Division that is investigating the incident,” a PIA spokesman said.

The spokesman said that over 1,200 ATR-42 and ATR-72 had been made using engines manufactured by one of the world’s most reliable manufacturers, Pratt & Whitney, which had provided more than 13,000 commercial engines to a range of aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus, since 1925, in addition to providing more than 7,300 engines for multiple military aircraft.