Investigators Reviewing Crashed Pakistan Airlines A320 Flight Data Recorder in Karachi

An Airbus A320 operated by Pakistan International Airlines as flight PK8303 crashed just before reaching the runway at Jinnah International Airport, pictured here. Photo: Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority

Accident investigators have recovered the flight data recorder (FDR) from the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303’s Airbus A320 that crashed upon landing on May 22 near Jinnah International Airport.

The airline has confirmed in a press release published to its website May 26 that 97 of the 99 flight crew and passengers onboard died in the crash, with just two of the passengers surviving. What caused the flight to crash is still under investigation, although the airline has provided what little details it knows so far about the fatal accident in statements published to its website and social media channels.

According to PIA, PK8303 was an Airbus A320-214 airliner registered as AP-BLD that was operating a flight from Lahore to Karachi, Pakistan. The aircraft crashed “just before the runway” according to a statement published to PIA’s Facebook page.

“Preliminary reports reveal that it was an uneventful flight up till final approach when the pilot contacted air traffic controller and gave arrival report with everything normal. On short of landing, aircraft reported technical fault and informed that it is proceeding back. Shortly after that, contact was lost and later it was reported crashed,” PIA said in the Facebook statement.

PIA is also stressing that the any speculation or statements about what the technical fault was “can only be termed best as supposition without any factual cause” until investigators have had a chance to recover and analyze some of the critical aircraft parts and systems that may have been involved in or caused the crash to occur.

In their May 26 press release, PIA also stated that a review of the A320’s registration and maintenance records shows that it was “technically sound and all aircraft are checked and cleared by engineering before flight departures.”

“CEO PIA, requested Media not to rely on speculations made by some self-acclaimed aviation experts at this time of grief and sorrow and that inquiry will be held in due course by Independent Investigation Board constituted by the Government of Pakistan to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the airline said.

The Government of Pakistan has tasked its own Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) with investigating the crash as an independent board with completing a preliminary report by September. Experts from the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), Airbus and Safran Engines also joined the investigation on May 26.

BEA provided updates about their support of the investigation via their Twitter account May 26, stating that the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder still has not been recovered. The agency is participating in support of AAIB as an accredited representative of that state of design of the aircraft involved in the accident.

“At this stage, Airbus has no confirmed information concerning the circumstances of the accident. The aircraft, registration number AP-BLD, Manufacturer Serial Number 2274, first entered service in 2004. It has been in operation with Pakistan International Airlines since 2014. The aircraft had logged around 47,100 flight hours and 25,860 flight cycles as of today. It was powered by CFM56-5B4/P engines,” Airbus said in a crisis statement about the crash published to its website.

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