Expert Aviation Lawyers Call On Pakistan CAA To Appoint Independent Investigators

British Aviation Lawyers Acting For The Victims Of Bhoja Air Crash In Pakistan Share Concerns Following Previous Accident Investigation

16.07.2012

Specialist aviation law experts representing over thirty families who lost loved ones in the Bhoja Airlines crash in Pakistan are urging the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to appoint independent Boeing 737 experts to the crash investigation team to ensure that their accident report is accurate and comprehensive.
 
The call from the specialist Irwin Mitchell Aviation Law team comes after the High Court in Peshawar, Pakistan received an unconditional apology from the Pakistan CAA in relation to the conduct of the investigation into the Airblue Airbus crash in July 2010. A court order confirms that the CAA is now to hire two international experts to independently reinvestigate the Airblue crash.
 
Jim Morris, a Partner in the specialist Aviation Law team at Irwin Mitchell, and a former Royal Air Force Boeing pilot, described these events as ‘astonishing’ and said lessons need to be learned from Airblue to ensure the Bhoja investigation is thorough and prompt.
 
Morris also urged the CAA to release the contents of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) from the Bhoja Aircraft so the families can start to understand why their loved ones lost their lives and so Boeing 737 operators around the World can quickly  learn from the crucial data to improve future flight safety. This is line with Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
 
The Bhoja crash on 20th April 2012, which is the latest devastating air accident in Pakistan, involved a 28 year old Boeing 737 during final approach to Islamabad airport and claimed the lives of all 127 people on board.
 
Jim Morris said: “A comprehensive and accurate investigation of air accidents is crucial to find out what went wrong and why so that we can improve flight safety. The Pakistan CAA’s apology to the High Court and the move to re-investigate the Airblue Airbus crash is very unusual and indicates the need for great care in the investigation of the Bhoja crash and any future investigations.
 
“We hope that the Pakistan CAA ensures that the Bhoja investigation team is allocated the resources and expertise it needs to enable it to produce a comprehensive report on the causes of the crash.”
 
In addition to the re-investigation of Air Blue, the investigations into the JS Air crash in November 2010 resulting 22 deaths and a Russian Cargo Plane crash in November 2011, killing 12 are all also pending.
 
“These ongoing investigations by the Pakistan CAA along with the complex investigation required for the Bhoja disaster will stretch their already limited resources,” Morris said. “This makes the allocation of additional resources and expertise crucial and independent Boeing 737 experts need to be seconded to the Pakistan CAA as soon as possible.”
 
Morris said the investigation will need to analyse the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder as well as mechanical or flight systems failures, Bhoja Airline’s safety oversight and operations management, pilot training and experience and the weather conditions at the time.
 
Clive Garner, who heads the Aviation Law Team at Irwin Mitchell, also raised concerns about the ‘alarming’ number of recent commercial airliner crashes over the last three months including the Sukhoi Superjet in Indonesia and the Dana Air MD-83 in Nigeria.
 
He said: “The Bhoja crash on its own is a truly devastating incident but the fact that it is one of three recent major aviation disasters causing over 300 deaths is a catastrophic blow to families around the world and to the flight safety record of airliner transportation in 2012.
 
“The Irwin Mitchell Aviation Law Team is investigating all three accidents and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives in these tragedies.
 
“Those killed were fathers, mothers, grandparents, children and siblings, and their families are naturally devastated. Aside from the emotional distress and psychological trauma caused by their sudden and tragic loss, many families now have to face up to life without the main breadwinner. Some relied on the income of their loved ones to live on and have now had that cruelly taken away from them so are suffering financial hardship.”
 
Irwin Mitchell represents victims seriously injured in air accidents around the world, as well as the families of those killed in air disasters. Recent examples include the Kenya Airways Boeing 737 crash in Cameroon in 2007, the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crash in Lebanon in 2010, the Pamir Airways Antonov AN24 crash in Afghanistan in 2010 and the Sunway Air crash in Pakistan in 2010.
 
Garner continued: “We are working with specialist colleagues including Stephan Eriksson, a renowned international aviation lawyer at Liman & Partners in Stockholm, Sweden and leading legal experts in Pakistan, to help the families of the victims of the Bhoja air crash achieve the justice that they deserve and to provide them with an explanation of exactly what caused the tragic loss of their loved ones.
 
“We are conducting our own investigations into this incident but we call upon the CAA to publish the contents of the CVR and FDR without delay, as these provide evidence of what was happening to the aircraft at the critical time and will help determine the probable cause or causes of the crash.
 
“The Pakistan CAA has made a statement saying that the Bhoja Air 737 was flying at 200 feet three minutes before it crashed, was in landing configuration (indicating that the gear and flaps were down) and should have been at 1,500 to 1,700ft above ground at the time.  All this confirms is that, while flying the final approach, the Bhoja flight had dramatically descended below the normal flight path.
 
“There is much speculation and a number of conflicting reports about what happened - some indicate that the crew transmitted to Air Traffic Control that there was a problem controlling the aircraft, while other reports refer to a fire on board. A thunderstorm has also been blamed by some for the crash.

“What is clear is that the families of the many victims that we represent and all of those affected do not yet know why their loved ones died. They clearly want justice to be done and the very least that they deserve at this stage is to know what actually caused this terrible tragedy.”