127 People were killed yesterday when Bhoja Air’s Boeing 737 crashed in Islamabad only 4KM away from the airport on its final approach for landing. This is the second major crash in the last two years, last year Air blue’s jet crashed into the Margalla hills in Islamabad all of the passengers on board were killed. What was similar in both crashes was the weather. Last year when Air Blue’s plane crashed it was raining heavily and thunderstorm was developing. This time around it was the same situation. Yesterday all day long sun had been shining, it was around 4:00 PM local time things started to change at around 3:30 PM (local) there were small white innocent looking clouds. By 5:30 PM those innocents clouds had turned into dangerous dark clouds, wind picked up and by 6:30 PM it turned into a massive thunder storm and it is around this time that the doomed plane went down.
It went down almost 4KM away from the Islamabad international airport, the plane was on its final approach for landing. On its final approach the wind was around 40-60 MPH and experts suggest that it went through a micro burst which pushed it down and it crashed. Some eye witness also claimed seeing the plane just before crashing in flames, some claim that its wings were on fire as it hit the ground. What is known for sure is that the plane lost contact with Islamabad airport control tower at exactly 6:40 PM, pilot never mentioned that he was in trouble or his engines were off, there was no indication from pilot that the air plane was facing any emergency, so the story that its wings were on fire i believe are exaggeration.
One thing here that needs attention of the authorities is the fact that how come pilot was not aware of the weather in advance or if he was then why did he risk landing in bad weather, why didn’t he divert to Lahore a town hardly 35mins flight from islamabad and has a bigger airport compared to Islamabad international. Why did the control tower gave the pilot green light to land when they should have known that the weather has turned for the worst. Pakistan’s aviation authorities should have been more vigilant after the air blue incident last year.
But those are not the only concerns, Islamabad international airport is not really a civilian airport, it originally was and still is an airbase and it is under military control and military jets come and go along civilian planes, airport is surrounded by three no-fly zone. For pilots its very hard to navigate in those conditions and many pilots complain about the situation, to address this government took initiative and decided to build a new airport, that airport is still under construction and no one knows when it will be completed.
The captain of the doomed plane was not new to these conditions, he had been in the Pakistani Air Force, after retirement he joined a private airline Saheen airways and he had only two months ago joined Bhoja Air. He was very experienced and had landed numerous times in Islamabad both as a civilian and as a military pilot.
Out of 127 dead up till now 90 bodies have been identified and 70 of those have been handed over to the relatives. Slowly pictures are being put besides the numbers and stories are coming out of the people who were on that doomed flight. There were two newly married couples who were coming to Islamabad for their honeymoon, like them there were families with kids and grands kids. We can only pray for them.
Bhoja Air’s owner Farooq Bhoja has been barred from leaving the country amid investigation into the deadly crash.