UPDATED: Pakistan International Airlines A320 crashes near Karachi

On 22 May, 2020, a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed near Karachi, supposedly killing the majority of those on board. This remains a developing story.

A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320-200 registered AP-BLD (not pictured) has crashed near Karachi. Photo by Ernest Leung | AeroNewsX

Pakistan International Airlines has confirmed that there were 91 passengers and 8 crew members (comprising 2 pilots and 6 cabin crew) on board flight 8303 between Lahore and Karachi. At least two people have survived the crash, however reports suggest that that number may be slightly higher.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan tweeted: "Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."

The aircraft involved in the incident was an Airbus A320-214 registered AP-BLD. The aircraft is almost 16 years old, having had its first flight in September 2004. It is equipped with CFM56 engines and has 174 seats.

The aircraft performed a go around at 9:34am while at 275 feet. The aircraft then ascended to 3175 feet. According to FlightRadar24 data, signal was lost at 525 feet at 9:40am.

Images of the plane prior to the accident show damage to both the engines - which confirms audio recordings of a technical fault; both engines shut down. During its final moments, the crew of Flight 8303 declared Mayday.

Airbus Chief Executive Officer, Guillaume Faury, said: "We at Airbus are deeply saddened by the tragic news of flight PK8303. My thoughts and those of my Airbus colleagues, go to the families and loved ones affected. In aviation, we all work hard to prevent this. Airbus will provide full assistance to the investigating authorities."

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, most flights across the globe, including in Pakistan, were suspended. However, with lockdowns easing and a slow and gradual return to operations, Pakistan International Airlines resumed vital domestic connections.

AP-BLD had operated 6 flights since it was returned to service on May 7, 2020. The aircraft was grounded on 22 March at Lahore. According to Pakistan International Airlines, its last maintenance check was on 21 May with no issues spotted with the engines or landing gear. The landing gear was also due for an overhaul in October 2024.

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