Bhoja Air Flight 213
A Boeing 737-200 similar to the one involved in the accident
|Date||20 April 2012|
|Summary||Impacted ground on approach to land|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-236A|
|Flight origin||Jinnah International Airport, Karachi|
|Destination||Benazir Bhutto International Airport
Bhoja Air Flight 213 (B4-213) was a domestic scheduled passenger flight operated by the Pakistani airline Bhoja Air. On 20 April 2012, the Boeing 737-236 aircraft, flying from Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, crashed in bad weather during its approach to Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad. All 121 passengers and 6 crew members aboard were killed in the crash. This was the inaugural flight of Bhoja Air's second daily service on this route.
It was the second-deadliest aviation accident in Pakistan, the first being the 2010 crash of Airblue Flight 202 that killed all 152 on board, and is the fourth deadliest accident involving the Boeing 737-200 series.
The aircraft was a Boeing 737-236, registered AP-BKC, Built as msn 23167, it first flew on 13 December 1984 and was delivered to British Airways on 7 January 1985 (registration G-BKYI), it was subsequently acquired by codeshare operation Comair (registered as ZS-OLB) in June 1999. The aircraft operated South African domestic routes until late 2010 when Comair retired its 737-200 fleet and it was sold to Bhoja Air in January 2012.
The aircraft was operating a domestic scheduled flight from Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, to Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad, which was the airline's first evening flight in almost 12 years (Bhoja Air was earlier closed down amidst financial difficulties in the year 2000, but restarted operations in March 2012). There were six crew and 121 passengers on board. The flight departed from Karachi at 17:00 PST (12:00 UTC) and was due to land at Islamabad at 18:50 (13:50 UTC). At 18:40 PKT, the aircraft crashed 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) short of its destination, near the village of Hussainabad, Rawalpindi. All 127 people on board were killed. The landing was attempted during heavy rain and a thunderstorm.[Note 1]. Initial reports suggested that as the pilots attempted to land amidst rain and strong winds, the aircraft may have flown into an unexpected wind shear, which smashed it onto the ground below. However, eyewitnesses stated that the aircraft may have been struck by lightning prior to the crash, describing it as a "ball of fire." A following Airblue flight landed safely five minutes after the accident occurred.
The airport was closed for three hours after the accident due to a lack of fire cover. The emergency crews based at the airport went to the crash site to assist in the firefighting operations there. Flights affected by the closure were diverted to Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore. Despite the fact that the crash occurred in a residential area, there were no casualties on the ground.
Passengers and crew
On board were six crew, 110 adult passengers, six children and five infants.
A statement on Bhoja Air's website offered condolences to the affected families and said that it would fulfil its legal obligations under the Pakistani law applicable at the time of the accident.
President Asif Ali Zardari cut short his trip to cities in Punjab and returned to the capital, and he and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani sent condolences to the families of those who died in the accident. The Civil Aviation Authority issued an office order at 9 A.M. the next day, requiring all airlines to transport the bodies of the victims free of cost. Those families who had already paid for the transportation before the order was released were refunded the amount.
On 30 April, Bhoja Air announced compensation of Rs. 500,000 to the legal heirs of the victims of the Flight 213.
On 28 May 2012, Bhoja Air's license was revoked by the CAA, due to failing a requirement under the Pakistani Civil Aviation laws that a carrier must maintain a minimum fleet of three aircraft. Of Bhoja Air's original fleet of 3, one crashed, another was grounded after it developed a fault, leaving only one operational aircraft.
Investigations into the crash were opened by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and by the Safety Investigation Board of Pakistan. Boeing is assisting the CAA with the investigation. The aircraft's cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the wreckage on 21 April and passed to the CAA. The flight data recorder was also recovered. Both were sent to the United States for analysis by Boeing.
Pakistani officials have promised a full investigation and Farooq Bhoja, the owner of Bhoja Air, has been put on the Exit Control List, meaning he may not leave the country while the criminal investigation is underway against him and the airline.
CAA, the regulatory authority for maintaining aviation safety standards in Pakistan, faced harsh criticism in Pakistani media for allegedly compromising on safety standards. The corruption within CAA, due to politically motivated appointments, was alleged to be the prime reason for increase in frequency of technical faults, crash landings and catastrophic air accidents. The CAA, however, maintained that it did not issue any airline license or airworthiness certificate under political pressure, however it did announce that the Bhoja Air engineers were not qualified to issue the air worthiness certificate.
Following the accident, the CAA announced it will re-certify the fleet of all private airlines in the country. The CAA suspended the airworthiness certificates of two Bhoja Air aircraft on 24 April 2012. The CAA announced that the suspension was lifted on 28 April 2012.
- ^ The METAR in force at the time of the accident was "OPRN 201300Z 23020KT 4000 TS FEW025CB SCT030 BKN100 25/15 Q1009.3/29.80". This translates as "METAR for Benazir Bhutto International Airport, issued on the 20th of the month at 13:00 Zulu Time. Wind from 230° at 20 knots (37 km/h). Visibility 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), thunderstorm occurring on station. Few clouds at 2,500 feet (760 m), cumulonimbus clouds present. Scattered clouds at 3,000 feet (910 m). Broken clouds at 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Temperature 25 °C, dewpoint 15 °C. Altimeter setting 1009.3 hPa / 29.80 inHg".
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