Repeating Mistakes

Apr 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Media Watch, Pakistan, Social

The news of Bhoja Air crash shook the entire country all at once. Every local news channel was covering the accident insensitively, showing dead bodies and wreckage of the plane. Each anchorperson was pointing fingers and raising questions about the accident.  127 people lost their precious lives but it was merely an exclusive news event for many channels. Thanks to the free media, the news reached everywhere immediately, but no one was considering the ethics related to such reporting. News Channels were trying to achieve the mileage and earn more viewer ratings. This event will be in the headlines for few days, but eventually  the media will forget this event and will get busy in some more exclusive issue like that of the ‘wedding of a sania mirza’.

One thing which was brought again to the limelight due to this crash was the forgotten Airblue plane crash at Margalla hills. Airblue plane crashed and resulted in a similar hue and cry all over the country. Promises were made for a thorough investigation, but nothing substantial happened. The families of the victims still don’t know the real reasons. Bhoja Air accident happened near same airport and under same weather conditions again because lessons were not learnt from the first one. No one was held accountable, which led to conspiracy theories related to the air crash.

Few weeks before the Bhoja Air crash, Dawn news reported about Airblue plane crash that and said: It is regrettable that the causes of the crash, compensation to the families of the deceased and preventive measures are yet to be fully resolved even after about 21 months’. It further says ‘Worse still, this will also show that Pakistan does not have even a handful of persons of competence to handle its domestic air crash’.

As it is said in a famous urdu verse :

حالات پرورش کرتے ھیں برسوں

حادثہ ایک دم نہیں ھوتا

Neglecting mistakes over the years lead to accidents. And once again the similar accident occurred. Had we properly enquired the previous air crash, this one could have been avoided. The sense of accountability and responsibility towards human lives is totally missing in this scenario.

Islam doesn’t forbid us to take safety measures. Being a biomedical engineer, I have witnessed a lot of such events in hospitals, where ‘technical’ mistakes of medics and paramedics  lead to the death of a patient, but the family members are told that ‘its will of Allah’. Indeed its will of Allah, but HE has made us accountable for what we do. This is a ‘trick of the trade’ in all the professions in Pakistan that when some human calamity occurs, blame Almighty for it and avoid lawsuits which may follow in any civilized country.

There is a commercial aspect to the whole story. The plane of Bhoja air was apparently old and unfit for flying, yet it was allowed to fly ‘this one time’. The pilot was probably under pressure for not diverting the plane to any other destination because of the fuel consumption. Still the circumstances are not unveiled that what made the pilot to decide for landing in such weather conditions. The known thing is only that 127 people lost their lives. Saving a human life, is like saving entire humanity. But here, we don’t care about the safety of hundreds of lives.

While i was typing these lines, news were coming in about  a plane of Shaheen air, whose landing gear broke while landing. Thankfully the aircraft narrowly escaped the disaster which could have been terrible. This clearly indicates that rules regarding technical aspects and safety of aircrafts need to be forcefully implemented.

Its pity that we don’t plan for emergency situations. Alot of incidents of fire eruption occur, but we rarely find that something has been learnt from these mistakes. Precious lives are continuously at stake.  I wonder when will be ‘grown enough’ to realize our social responsibilities as citizens of this country. Human life is the cheapest thing available in Pakistan.

The media is more focused on increasing its TRPs. The entire coverage is based on sensations. Media did the same in air blue crash and then never took up the matter in upcoming months. Airtime was then reserved for the the likes of veenas and meeras and no one pointed out the mistakes that led to the air crash. This will happen again, people will forget it, and the government will get busy in protecting its corruption.

Some lessons need to be learnt from this air crash. Better we learn them sooner and avoid repeating mistakes.



Muhammad Saad Khan

About the author

Muhammad Saad Khan is a Biomedical Engineer with a diverse background of engineering and management.

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  1. Nicely written article on the current sad tragedy….
    And this will make all clear that
    1. Bhoja Air crash plane was nearly 30 years old.How CAA can allow such an old plane to fly?
    2. BhojaAir’s owner, Farouk Bhoja’s passport was confiscated in 2002 to bar him from flying abroad due to being defaulter of CAA.
    3. In 2001 Pakistan’s BhojaAir was cited for defaulting on Rs6.9 million ($76,00), but was reinstated in late 2011 without paying that money….
    Saad is right that apparently, the media followed no code of conduct in broadcasting all the physical aspects , no doubt we cant deny the importance of media , but it would be like to put more salt on the wounds of bereaved families……
    above all the aviation authority on Saturday said that it might take one year to reach any conclusion about the cause of the air crash…So Hope for the best…..what else we can say…..?

  2. A good article precise & to the point .

  3. Very well written, Please allow me to share some insights on industry practices. Its somehow not unusual for low cost carriers to acquire and put 30 years old aircraft in sky. Airworthiness of aircrafts depends on maintenance standards and not the age of equipment. Surely it does have some impact as well, but not to that extend.

    As per Standard Operating Procedures and fuel sheet, Aircraft was carrying fuel sufficient enough to proceed for the diversion. But then again its the Crew in Charge to decide if diversion is needed or planned trip can be continued. I belive technical readings and black box results can indicate well that why Capt. Noor Ullah Afridi didnt opted for diversion; neither he was advised by ATC to divert. Till that time we need to hold our horses and avoid “Probabilities”.

    I do agree with Saad on non ethical conduct of our news channel. There was absolute chaos on the crash site with people strolling through the wreckage and every reporter was pretending to be an aviation analyst. I feel that this tragedy is already too much dramatised and is being used for political scoring. We should looking for the facts and outcome of technical evaluations.

    Lastly, We all do understand that its very tough time for the affectees. May ALLAH swt bless them all with eternal peace.

  4. @ Ali Zaheer,
    I agree to some of the points that you mentioned, but in a country like Pakistan, documents can be changed anytime. Civil Aviation does not take responsibility for enforcing standard procedures, verifying them routinely or fining operators.

    My mother was returning from Canada a year back. PIA flight was delayed and was grounded by Transport Canada (Canadian Civil aviation authority) based on some non-working parts (not sure which ones). This same flight was let go without being checked from Karachi Airport. Till next day when the part arrived and the aircraft was fixed, TCA did not let go implementing complete procedures.

    Unfortunately, CAA is quite incompetent like other government institutions as most of the placements are done by present government to oblige their political workers who or their relatives are educationally, ethically and morally unfit for these jobs. Their simple attitude is “why the hell should we care?” and serving their pocket instead of this nation is their only motto!

    I am not aviation expert or a crash expert, I may be wrong. But based on the wreckage of the aircraft, the must have been blew up in the air, almost around a height of 3000-3500 meters. Boeing 737 has known problem with empty tank explosions, which was later replace with NGN-373 model (nitrogen filled). This report certainly gives a good insight to some ill-fated B737 flights.

    Based on this, we can safely assume that there wasn’t enough fuel in the tanks (empty tank gaseous explosion). Most of the smaller airlines in practice fill up enough fuel to land the aircraft only to next destination not enough for even a diversion. Either this was a human error or theft in jet fuel, or the airline just trying to save extra money on additional fuel that may have caused all passengers their lives.

  5. Very well written! You’ve raised some imp points.
    1. Media: Freedom doesn’t mean media can loses moral/ethical values. Media’s behavior must be discussed in the parliament, and strict rules must be implemented.
    2. Accountability: CAA & Bhoja air must be brought to the court. Who allowed a retired plane. Why nobody knew about the weather conditions in advance, etc
    3. You summed up quite well: “Indeed its will of Allah, but HE has made us accountable for what we do”

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