Air Blue plane crash investigation making no headway


ISLAMABAD: Investigations into the Air Blue plane crash in Islamabad on July 28 are making no headway despite passage of some months and people fear that the probe might not reach a conclusion, Pakistan Today has learnt.
“Members of the investigation team have so far been unable to find the cause of the deadly crash that resulted in the death of 152 passengers on board the ill-fated plane early this year,” a senior government official said, seeking anonymity. “More disturbing news is that no conclusion of the ongoing probe is likely to be reached in the next six months keeping in view the slow pace at which the investigation is moving and also the level of interest officials are showing in it,” he said.
The eight-member investigation team included representatives from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Air Blue, French investigators and officials from the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents. According to an official, the team, which had gone to France after the crash and returned in mid-August had not held any formal meeting since then. “If they can’t have a meeting on such a vital issue in months how can anyone expect any way forward for the investigations,” he said.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence, which held its meeting on October 16, over the issue of the plane crash, had also expressed its anger over the investigators for their failure to complete the report of the plane crash. A brief statement given to the Defence committee said, “During the preliminary investigations conducted so far, it appears that air traffic services were provided as requested by the flight and as per existing procedures, but contributory factors, if any are being analyzed during the investigation which is in progress”.
“Still in progress?” an angry woman parliamentarian asked the defence ministry’s officials that led to an exchange of harsh words between her and Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (r) Athar Ali Khan,” the official said. The defence secretary, according to the official, also told the meeting that the probe could take months before reaching any conclusion. The defence ministry statement said that evidence and data collection had been nearly completed.
“Handling of bodies of all the 152 persons on board has been completed through recognition, DNA tests and autopsy. Payments of compensation to the families of the deceased has commenced through a committee constituted under the aviation joint secretary of the defence ministry,” the statement said.
But the official said that the payments were yet to be made and claims by the relevant authorities in this regard were baseless.