PIA Flight 268
Wreckage of Flight PK-268
|Date||28 September 1992|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A300B4-203|
|Operator||Pakistan International Airlines|
Pakistan International Airlines Flight 268 was an Airbus A300B4-203, registration AP-BCP, which crashed on approach to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on 28 September 1992. All 167 on board were killed. It is the 100th aviation disaster with more than 100 fatalities and the deadliest aviation crash to occur on Nepalese soil.
Flight 268 departed Karachi at 11:13 AM Pakistan Standard Time for Kathmandu. Upon contacting Nepalese air traffic control, the aircraft was cleared for an approach from the south called the Sierra approach. An aircraft cleared to use this approach was at the time directed to pass over a reporting point called "Romeo" located 41 miles south of the Kathmandu VOR (or at 41 DME) at an altitude of 15,000 feet. The aircraft was to then descend in seven steps to 5,800 feet, passing over a reporting point known as "Sierra" located at 10 DME at an altitude of 9,500 feet, before landing at Kathmandu. This approach allowed aircraft to pass over the Mahabharat Range directly south of Kathmandu (the crest of which is located just north of the Sierra reporting point) at a safe altitude.
Although no pertinent flight deck conversation was recovered from Flight 268's cockpit voice recorder by investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), which assisted with the investigation, data recovered from the flight data recorder by the TSB showed that the aircraft initiated each step of its descent one step too early. At 16 DME the aircraft was a full 1,000 feet below its cleared altitude; at 10 DME (the Sierra reporting point) it was 1,300 feet below its cleared altitude. Additionally, although the pilots of Flight 268 reported their aircraft's altitude accurately to air traffic control, controllers did nothing to alert them as to their inappropriate altitude until seconds before the accident. The aircraft approached the Mahabharat Range at an insufficient altitude and crashed into the south slope, killing all aboard.
Investigators determined that the accident had been caused mainly by pilot error. However, it was also determined that the approach plates for Kathmandu issued to PIA pilots were unclear and poorly reproduced, and that Nepalese air traffic controllers were timid and reluctant to intervene in what they saw as piloting matters such as terrain separation.
This accident occurred 59 days after Thai Airways International Flight 311 crashed north of Kathmandu.
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- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Air Disaster, Vol. 3, by Macarthur Job, Aerospace Publications Pty. Ltd. (Australia), 1998 ISBN 1-875671-34-X, pp. 98–115.