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.”
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.
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…