All safety checks were compromised: Experts

Startling new revelations about Bhoja Air came to light on Saturday as to how the airline allegedly used political pressure to get licence to operate after a lapse of some 10 years despite being a defaulter to the tune of Rs6.9 million as well as the health of aircraft Boeing 737-200 that crashed near Islamabad on Friday killing at least 127 people on board.

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Published: Mon 23 Apr 2012, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:41 AM

After contacting people associated with the aviation industry this scribe learnt that the airline operations were allowed allegedly due to “immense political pressure” on Pakistan’s aviation watchdog Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) currently managed by friends and cronies of the highest authorities of the country as well as the Ministry of Defence.

According to the experts in the CAA, the 28-year-old plane stood idle for the last 10 years after being dumped by another private airline, Shaheen Air, due to safety reasons and was recently acquired by Bhoja Air from British Airways, South Africa, on a dry lease.

It is also learnt that the original inaugural flight from Karachi to Islamabad was scheduled couple of days back but the airline had to delay it till the fateful Friday owing to alleged fitness problems of the doomed Boeing 737-200.

Incidentally all 737-200 series aircraft that first rolled out of the Boeing Assembly lines in 1967 are not allowed to operate in Europe although a few perhaps are operational in African countries.

The aviation insiders also claim that the ill-fated aircraft was allowed to commence flights from April 20 without taking proper procedures and professional checks and in total haste ignoring all the safety aspect of the plane already consigned to the junkyard by another carrier. It is also reported here that the two engines of the aircraft had different thrust levels which is not allowed at any cost.

Financial bankruptcy and lack of aircraft — previously it had old Russian-built planes in its fleet — left the airline with no option but to stop its operations in 2001 although it maintained a fully functional headquarter office in Karachi as well as an operation and ramp office at Karachi Airport.

All flight safety rules were compromised by the CAA officials for Bhoja Air to operate its flights in Pakistan on different domestic sectors following a decade of non-operation allegedly under pressure from political cronies of the present government.

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