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PK-661 crash probe: ATR offers to send specialist team to Pakistan

KARACHI: As officials in Pakistan struggle to find out the cause of the deadliest plane crash in four years that killed 47 people including Junaid Jamshed, a popstar-turned-Muslim evangelist and began collecting DNA of the victims, France-based turboprop aircraft manufacturer ATR on Friday offered a helping hand in the investigation.

An ATR-42 aircraft carrying 47 people issued a Mayday call on Wednesday before losing radar contact and crashing into a mountain, killing everyone on board.

Engine trouble was initially believed responsible, but many questions remain, stirring new worries about the safety record of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

The aircraft appeared to have suffered a failure in one of its two turboprop engines just before the crash, to be confirmed by an investigation.


Official sources confirmed that once the company gets a green signal from PIA to visit Pakistan, a 5-member specialist team of ATR would also meet the Safety and Investigation Board (SIB) of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to get a breakthrough in the crash probe.

Meanwhile, separate teams of Pakistan army, CAA and PIA said they have gathered evidence from the crash site while taking voice recorder of the aircraft into their custody.

Earlier, aviation officials also recovered black box, a small machine in a plane that records all the details of each flight and is useful for finding out the cause of an accident and sent it to the laboratory.

The CAA also launched a comprehensive inspection of ATR planes being flown by the national airline during which they would go through a ‘shakedown’ check after the tragic crash.

The ATR-42 and ATR-72 planes in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar would come under detailed scrutiny with the help of PIA engineers.


A tragedy to remember

The ATR-42 aircraft involved in the crash had undergone regular maintenance, including an “A-check” certification in October, claimed Chairman PIA Muhammad Azam Saigol during a presser after the crash.

“I want to make it clear that it was a perfectly sound aircraft,” Saigol added.

Grief erupted online soon after flight PK-661 smashed into the side of a mountain near the town of Havelian, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Wednesday, after taking off from the mountain resort region of Chitral.

It crashed just 50 km (31 miles) short of its destination, the international airport in Islamabad, the capital.

Shocked relatives of the victims gathered at the airport, some weeping quietly, others besieging officials with questions.

Meanwhile, victims’ remains were sent by helicopter to Islamabad, where DNA tests will be used to identify them.



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