Report: Could Wind Shear Have Brought Bhoja Air Flight 213 Down? – UPDATE 2

Bhoja Air Wreckage

Wreckage from Bhoja Air Flight 213 Disaster

UPDATE – April 28, 2012:

We’ve received a few reports stating that Bhoja Air’s suspension has been lifted by the CAA and their flights have begun operating again. We will try to confirm this as soon as possible…


UPDATE – April 23, 2012:

According to the International Herald Tribune, a preliminary probe in to the crash by ‘investigators’ indicate that Flight 213 ‘caught fire mid-air, and most likely exploded before the debris hit the ground’.

However, The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says otherwise:

‘[Nadeem Yousufzai, the CAA Director General (DG)] ruled out the possibility of the plane catching fire and exploding in air. After listening to the conversation between the pilot and the control tower and visiting the crash site, Yousafzai suggested “the aircraft hit the ground and bounced off before crashing”. In the face of such contradictions, a CAA official did say the preliminary report was only a starting point and could not be relied upon to fix responsibility entirely. Vital evidence – in the form of that gained from the plane’s Black Box and voice recorder recovered from the crash site – is still to be included and investigated.’

Yousafzai also stated that the plane was certified to fly and the plane’s age doesn’t necessarily mean anything:

“CAA experts gave the plane a proper fitness certificate before it took off from Karachi,” he said. “Flight safety is not often linked with a plane’s age. It depends on the suitability for flight.”

Source


An investigation in to an airline crash and its causes will take many months if not years to ultimately determine the cause.

But according to some experts who have started analyzing the events surrounding the Bhoja Air flight 213 crash, wind shear could very well have been the culprit.

Investigators will examine all aspects of a crash: Weather, pilot error or mechanical failure. Some reports suggest the 737-200 was not only old but perhaps not mechanically safe:

‘However, pilots and air accident experts, who helped Dawn analyse the tragedy by putting together the chronology of events, say the crash was fairly consistent with what could have been caused by a wind shear. Unfortunately neither the ageing aircraft nor the ill-equipped airport had wind shear detection systems that could have forewarned the pilots and ground controllers. The result was a catastrophe. Wind shear is a meteorological phenomenon involving fast changing wind patterns, mostly downdrafts, that could cause a landing aircraft to lose speed and altitude. If proven this could be possibly the first case of air crash in Pakistan caused by wind shear.’

According to Dawn.com, officials reported wind shear conditions around the airport at the time of the crash. The Bhoja 737 was facing a strong headwind on approach of 30 knots (35 mph). The aircraft was at an altitude of 1,500 to 1,800 feet at the time the aircraft started going down, and there was no distress call of any kind before the crash.

Witnesses say the 737 started to drop rapidly and within a matter of seconds impacted the ground:

‘Air planes while landing particularly become vulnerable to wind shear because the wheels and flaps are down, inducing a drag, and engines are not operating at full throttle, making it difficult to remain airborne. On the ground the Bhoja Air jet broke into four pieces with no major signs of burning. Waleed Hassan, an aviation enthusiast, talking to this correspondent from the site of the accident, said he hadn’t seen any fire tenders putting out fire or smelt burnt substance.’

If wind shear was the cause, it could explain a lack of communication between the pilots and the tower. The pilots might simply have not had enough time to radio the tower as they fought to keep the plane airborne.

Reports Lightning Hit the Plane

There have been witness reports that lightning hit flight 213. While that may be true, statistically it’s not likely that would have downed the aircraft. Today’s modern jetliners are designed to take a lightning strike and these occurrences actually happen more frequently than people realize.

There were also reports of an engine on fire, but experts say that could have been caused by a pilot applying sudden throttle if the aircraft was caught in wind shear. The could have resulted in an engine flaming out.

Source

Investigators recovered both ‘black boxes’ so in a matter of time we should have a clearer picture of what happened. Do you agree with the theory above? Sound off below in the comments…

Comments

  1. Jim Thodo says

    Interesting to read this as that was one of the first things I thought (wind shear). No detection systems there eh? I feel fortunate flying in the States that’s all I’ll say.

  2. Zafar Khan says

    Being a 737 pilot myslef and living just next to Islamabad Airport, I fully endorse the idea of windshear to be the most probable cause of accident. There was severe thunderstorm at the time of crash and strong gusty winds accompanied by lightening. My prayers are with the departed souls.

    My question to the authorities is that, how many more accidents we will have to see before we have a proper, fully equipped airfield available at Fethjang? It is taking rather long for that airfield to get operational.

    • JamesMX says

      Zafar,

      So the airport there can’t detect wind shear? I don’t know much about this except that I know wind shear isn’t good! The plane didn’t have detection either it sounds like. It also sounds like the plane was old.

      • Zafar Khan says

        You are right jamesMX, the plane was old 737-200, it seems that it didn’t have widnshear alerting system onboard, since it was inaugural flight of the company, the aircraft was reportedly given ‘one time clearance’ for this flight by CAA and told to rectify all the defective equipment. Both the pilots were quite experienced. I have had the opportunity to fly with Captain Afridi, some time back and certainly can say that he would have done all that he could, to save this aircraft. There are certain things, weather being on top of that list, that one can not fight with. The weather phenomenon, that day was there at/around the airfield only for 15 to 20 minutes, but that was sufficient time to bring down this old bird.

          • farrukh says

            Zafar
            absolutely shocked by one time clearance.How can someone do this with innocent passengers allowing a defective aircraft to fly on the condition to rectify defects later being an inaugral flight.An act of gross negligence and favourtism has caused so many deaths and effectd lives of dependents should not be justified in any way. My sincere prayers for althose knowingly responsible for flight of defective aircraft to burn in deepest corner of hell.

  3. Kenneth Holland says

    Farrukh,

    There are rumors that the head of Bhoja Air got some special favors to get his plane up in the air. Don’t know how true that is.

  4. Zafar Khan says

    Farrukh and Kenneth,

    You both are right, there is more than wind shear in this crash. Aircraft was old, more than 25 year old. It is suspected that its weather radar was unserviceable and maintenance practices of the company were questionable. On top of it – yes the new boss of Bhoja Air had the relevant connections, that helped him in getting all the clearances in record time – bypassing the procedures of regulatory authority.

  5. Zafar says

    Yes, Kenneth you are right, Bhoja Air is back in the air. CAA after carrying our necessary inspections cleared the aircraft and airline to continue its operations.

    Now with every passing day, my original thoughts that the crash might have happened due to Wind Shear are getting stronger. If you go through teh delta airline crash during similar weather conditions, you might agree with me. its only sad that though most other countries adopted the recommendations of that investigation report, we have yet a loooong way to go.

  6. saima khan says

    I am rather late with comments!

    Checked with a pilot and he says left hand on the control wheel and right hand on the throttles….and stay vigilant!

    At his height, he would have been on auto-pilot and tracking the ILS to 30. With a strong head-wind, the AP would have been trimming DOWN to stay on the glide-path. Not a good situation to be in when the shear hit.

    In the Delta L-1011 case, the captain warns the co-pilot flying that he is going to “loose it”. With a strong head-wind and going above the glide, the throttles were pulled back and nose-down input applied. Then he hit a shear.

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