New evidence suggests that the plane crash in Pakistan on Friday may have been caused by the pilots missing a warning to lower the craft's landing gear. Pakistan International Airlines flight PK8303 was approaching the runway at the airport in Karachi for the second time when it lost control and crashed into several nearby buildings. Air safety expert Captain Amit Singh spoke to Times of India about the circumstances leading up to the crash.
"During the first approach, a continuous aural warning from the cockpit can be heard in the background," Singh said. "The controller gave a landing clearance. According to [flight radar], the aircraft continued to descend until 275 feet, and then they went around." The lowest a plain can descend before committing to a landing at the airport, or attempt to circle back and try again, is 229 feet.
Singh went on to say that the craft was several thousand feet higher than required to land. "Prior to that, the ATC had instructed the aircraft twice to discontinue the approach, but to no avail," he added. However, that leaves the question of why the pilots didn't lower the landing gear due to their rough descent. However, that would mean they did so despite apparent warnings in the cockpit. There's also the fact that the plan had made contact with the runway on its first attempt. However, with no landing gear, the contact likely caused damage to both engines, which was consistent with eyewitness accounts.
Captain Mohan Ranganathan, another flight safety expert, addressed the possibility that this may have contributed to the crash. "In the course of the landing, the pilot might have noticed that during flare, the speed was not washing off," Ranganathan explained. "That's possible if the landing gear wasn't lowered and so there wasn't enough drag to lower the speed." If that were the case, and the pilot then decided to approach the runway a second time, "the engines probably spooled up slowly and the underside came in contact with the runway."
The plane was carrying a total of 91 passengers and 8 crew members when it crashed. In the wake of the accident, two passengers appeared to have survived, Bank of Punjab president Zafar Massood and the other is Muhammad Zubair. At this time, they're believed to be the only survivors of the crash. Three people on the ground were also injured.