PIA and the inter-departmental politics continues

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On Feb 27th, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane Boeing 777-200 operating Flight PK-786 from London Heathrow to Islamabad had a serious issue.

PIA flight PK-786 was enroute at FL370 over southern Germany when it lost radio contact with the air traffic control (ATC). It failed to report to the ATC at different intervals for many hours and a stretch of around 700 nms.

Two days later, this was reported subsequently by The Aviation Herald and some other social media as well. Subsequently, Baaghi TV also reported the news and it was brought to mainstream media by Mubasher Lucman, a senior anchorperson cum aviation enthusiast.

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PIA and pilots were adamant that nothing was wrong and that it was routine flight. Pilots also claimed they were given a direct route and hence did not bother to contact the multiple ATC points that came in between.

As per our reports, the two pilots were found negligent and had gone to sleep in the aircraft. When reported PIA authorities took it up and maintained that the Europeans had not complained or contacted them for the issue, hence, they do not think there is any issue.

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However, now BAAGHI TV HAS LEARNT THROUGH RELIABLE SOURCES THAT THE BUDAPEST ATC has contacted and reported the matter to the PIA authorities.

Capt. Amir Aftab, who was dealing with the matter, had retired a few days back but reinstated on a contract for two years by PIA is now investigating this matter. PIA management is trying to maintain a hush hush on the issue but we have learnt reliably that both the pilots stand to be grounded now and definitely not be given any long haul flights. They may be given some short haul but as of now they are both grounded.

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Reportedly, the first officer in the aircraft is the wife of a retired PIA pilot and a CAA Director. How she and her sister got their licenses is a mystery to all who are aware of their flying skills. The first officer’s real sister is also facing issues due to her life threatening landing at the Gilgit airport and as per insiders she has been stripped of her seniority and now will fly only as a first officer.

What actually happened?

According to reports by The Aviation Herald, ATC first lost contact with Flight PK-786 whilst in German airspace. After passing into Czech airspace, Czech ATC was also unable to get a response from the crew of the PIA Boeing 777 after multiple attempts to make radio contact. Czech fighter jets were scrambled to escort Flight PK-786 to the border.

The aircraft continued on its scheduled course at FL 370, and subsequently passed into Hungarian airspace. The Hungarian Air Force had already deployed its Gripen fighter jets to intercept the aircraft, as the Czech Air Force had given warning ahead of its arrival. The PIA Boeing 777 remained uncontactable on radio as it passed over Hungary, and only re-established communication as it crossed into Romania. Communication was finally made with Bucharest Area Control at 20:18 UTC.

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In total, the aircraft did not communicate with ATC for around 50 minutes as it passed over Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary. As reported by The Aviation Herald, the crew of the Flight PK-786 did not respond to multiple ATC attempts to restore radio communication. Czech ATC instructed the crew to press ‘ident’ on their transponder. Presumably, this was an attempt to gauge whether the flight was suffering from a one-or two-way radio failure. Czech ATC also tried to reach Flight PK-786 on guard frequency but both attempts fell on deaf ears and the aircraft proceeded to fly towards Slovakia.

Before the flight left the Czech ATC zone, ATC informed the crew of the next frequencies. It looks like this information was also not received. Going off the fact that radio communication was only restored as the aircraft passed into Romanian Area Control, it looks most likely that the crew of PIA Flight PK-786 were oblivious to the multiple attempts to make radio contact. This is most likely due to a mixture of inadequate communication skills and training, which meant that radio commands were not understood, and also being tuned into an incorrect radio frequency for ATC over Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary.

Till filing of this report, PIA authorities did not give a reply to Baaghi TV and we shall carry it if and when they do. Stay tuned to Baaghi TV for more updates!

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