'Human Error' to Blame in Plane Crash That Killed 97

Pakistan faults overconfident pilot and air traffic control
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2020 12:30 PM CDT
'Human Error' to Blame in Plane Crash That Killed 97
Pakistan's aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Pakistan's aviation minister said Wednesday that "human error" on the part of the pilot, the co-pilot, and air traffic control caused last month's plane crash in Karachi that killed 97 people on board. The announcement shed new light on the tragedy after Pakistani investigators had earlier said only that the crash resulted from engine failure, per the AP. It also revealed previously unconfirmed details—including that the plane had made a failed attempt at landing during which its engines apparently scrubbed the runway, causing significant damage. The plane went down in a residential area near Jinnah International Airport, nearly a mile short of the runway, on May 22, just days after Pakistan lifted restrictions imposed over the coronavirus pandemic and resumed domestic flights.

Every other seat on the Pakistan International Airlines flight was left vacant to promote social distancing. There were only two survivors of 91 passengers and eight crew members. A 13-year-old girl from the neighborhood where the plane went down was critically injured in the crash and later died in hospital. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, presenting preliminary findings in Pakistan's probe into the crash in parliament, said the pilot ignored instructions from air traffic control. Air traffic control told the pilot three times that the plane was too low to land but he refused to listen, saying he would manage, Khan said. He spoke of an "overconfidence and lack of focus" among the pilot and co-pilot, who discussed the coronavirus throughout the flight. (More plane crash stories.)

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