Fortunately, a passenger aircraft of the Pakistan International Airlines escaped an accident as it skidded off the runway while landing at Gilgit airport on Saturday.
All passengers remained safe in the incident, according to the airlines’ spokesperson. The flight PK-605, according to the media reports, was carrying 53 people, including the air crew. The runway at Gilgit airport that was temporarily closed after the incident has been reopened, an inquiry has been ordered, and the two pilots of the flight have been grounded till the completion of the probe.
PIA of the past used to boast an immaculate safety record. But over the past few years, there have been recurring safety issues with its operations. In December 2016, its flight PK-661, flying from Chitral to Islamabad, crashed near Havelian killing all 47 on board, including singer Junaid Jamshed and Chitral Deputy Commissioner Osama Warraich. After the accident, all ATR aircraft of PIA were grounded.
As has been announced a through probe into the incident is important. After the Havelian crash, curiously enough the ground crew of the national carrier instead of having a belief in their ability and SOP, was seen sacrificing a black goat for divine support near an ATR-42 aircraft that was given clearance for take-off.
The national carrier should emulate the other airways in the region particularly those that it helped while those were being launched. The world over as the accident ratio in the aviation travel climbs down, the PIA is on the opposite trajectory. It is a sad fact that its fleet is aging and maintenance and replacement of parts is not done as per manual. The organization otherwise has become a sick entity that is causing huge loss to the exchequer. About time, it put its house in order. And this Gilgit scare should serve as a wakeup call.