Civil Aviation Authority directed to ground PIA’s all 10 ATR aircrafts until shakedown tests
Pakistan International Airlines has announced it has temporarily suspended its ATR operation after a crash last week killed 47 people and a second aircraft reported technical issues shortly before take off overnight.
All 10 ATR planes in PIA’s fleet have been grounded after a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to hold shakedown tests of the aircraft.
“It has been decided to keep all 10 ATR aircraft grounded till they are cleared after thorough examination,” said a PIA press release.
Shakedown tests involve rigorous checks on all key systems on aircraft, PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said. Mr. Gilani didn’t say when the testing will be completed, but said there will be “a massive impact on flight operations, with massive rescheduling.”
The statement said the “temporary suspension of ATR operation” will affect PIA’s flights to smaller airports like Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Mohenjo Daro, Zhob, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Chitral and Gilgit.
Passengers are strongly advised to check status of their flights from PIA Call Center at 111-786-786.
The move comes after PK-661 from Chitral to Islamabad crashed in Abbottabad. Another PIA ATR faced “technical issues” late Sunday just before it was set to take off from Multan on a flight to Karachi and was called back to its parking bay, though the airline denied media reports that one of the engines caught fire.
PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani told Dawn the pilot observed some fault in an engine and brought the plane back to the bay after informing the air traffic control. He denied media reports that flight PK-581’s engine had caught fire.
The incident had come five days after a PIA ATR aircraft went down near Havelian killing all 47 people on board.
State-owned PIA is the country’s largest airline, and twin-engine ATRs make up almost a third of its fleet.
The ATR 42-500 is a twin turboprop regional aircraft that carries 48 passengers in standard configuration. ATR aircraft are capable of operations on both paved and unpaved strips. The engines are built by US manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
Six-member team to probe PIA crash on December 7
A six-member investigation team arrived in Islamabad on Monday to help probe the PK-661’s Havelian crash of Dec 7, sources said.
The team is comprised of three Canadian officials and three French officials. The officials belong to France-based aircraft maker ATR and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
The team will travel to the crash site on Tuesday and examine the plane wreckage.