Pakistan International Airlines Flight 268
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|Date||28 September 1992|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain due to Pilot error, improper Navigation Charts and GPWS failure|
|Site||Kathmandu, Nepal |
|Aircraft type||Airbus A300B4-203|
|Operator||Pakistan International Airlines|
|IATA flight No.||PK268|
|ICAO flight No.||PIA268|
|Call sign||PAKISTAN 268|
|Flight origin||Jinnah International Airport|
|Destination||Tribhuvan International Airport|
Pakistan International Airlines Flight 268 was an Airbus A300, registration AP-BCP, which crashed on approach to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on 28 September 1992. All 167 people 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.
The aircraft involved was a 16-year-old Airbus A300B4-203 registered as AP-BCP (serial number 025) The aircraft was built in 1976 and had its maiden flight on 23 March the same year. On 2 May 1977, the aircraft was delivered to Bavaria Germanair, and was registered as D-AMAZ. On 10 May the same year, the aircraft was leased to EgyptAir. In 1978 the aircraft was re-registered as SU-AZY. The aircraft was then sold to Hapag-Lloyd Flug after its merger with Bavaria Germanair. The aircraft was re-registered as D-AHLZ. The aircraft was then leased to the following airlines (remaining registered as D-AHLZ):
- EgyptAir (January 1979 - October 1982)
- Kuwait Airways (July - April 1983),
- Capitol Air (June - October 1984)
- Air Jamaica (February - April 1985)
- Condor Flugdienst (May - November 1985)
On 21 April, 1986, the aircraft was delivered to Pakistan International Airlines, and was re-registered as AP-BCP. The aircraft had a total of 39,045 flying hours and 19,172 landings at the time of the crash.
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.
Shortly after reporting at 10 DME, at 2.30 pm the aircraft crashed at approximately 7,300 feet (2,200 m) into the side of the 8,250 ft (2,524 m) mountain at Bhattedanda, disintegrating on impact, instantly killing all aboard; the tail fin separated and fell into the forest at the base of the mountainside.
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. The aircraft approached the Mahabharat Range at an insufficient altitude and crashed into the south slope. Although the pilots of Flight 268 reported their aircraft's altitude accurately to air traffic control, controllers did nothing to alert them of their inappropriate altitude until seconds before the accident.
Investigators determined that the accident had been caused mainly by pilot error. Visibility was poor due to overcast and the ground proximity warning would not have been triggered in time because of the steep terrain. The approach plates for Kathmandu issued to PIA pilots were also determined to be unclear, and Nepalese air traffic controllers were judged timid and reluctant to intervene in what they saw as piloting matters such as terrain separation.  The report recommended that ICAO review navigational charts and encourage their standardisation, and that the approach to Kathmandu Airport be changed to be less complex.
The Wilkins Memorial Trust, a UK charitable organisation that provides aid to Nepal, was established in memory of a family killed in the crash.
- List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft
- 2012 Mexico Learjet 25 crash
- American Airlines Flight 965, aircraft which also crashed into hillside while on approach
- Garuda Indonesia Flight 152, crash of an Airbus A300 that crashed into a valley on approach and the GPWS didn't sound
- Prinair Flight 277, crashed into mountains while on approach
- Thai Airways International Flight 311, crash while on approach into the same airport in the same year.
- UPS Airlines Flight 1354, cargo aircraft that also crashed while on approach
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Ranter, Harro. "Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety Database > Geographical regions > Nepal air safety profile". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- Gero, David (2000). Aviation Disasters: The World's Major Civil Airliner Crashes since 1950 (3rd ed.). Sparkford, nr. Yeovil, Somerset: Patrick Stephens (Haynes). p. 232. ISBN 9781852606022.
- McGirk, Tim; Wolmar, Christian (30 September 1992). "Hunt goes on for black box in Airbus wreckage". The Independent.
- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A310-304 HS-TID Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport (KTM)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "Airbus crash blamed on pilot error". The Independent. 30 September 1992. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- Khaliq, Fazal (17 October 2015). "PIA memorial park in Nepal honours 1992 air crash victims". Dawn.
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- "WMT" (PDF). WMT News (pdf). Autumn 2007.