Air Blue Flight 202 -Don’t forget the Families

George's Point of View

Some people woke today and remembered 152 passengers who crashed into a hillside in Pakistan. The plane was flown by Airblue and it was the last ride those 152 people would ever remember. For the last ten months, every morning the families wake and remember someone on that plane who is no longer here. Even though as of July 28, it will have been a year since the crash, to their families, time doesn’t matter so much. Justice does.

On July 28, Airbus sent out a press release regrettably confirming their year 2000 model Airbus A321 operated by Airblue operating a scheduled service, Flight ED 202, from Karachi to Islamabad crashed, killing all aboard. Airbus promised to provide full technical assistance to Pakistani authorities. Thanks for the concern and sympathy, but ask the families, where is their assistance?

We have not heard anything about Pilot Pervez Iqbal Chaudhry who was 61 years old, and suffering from diabetes and hypertension. Was he suffering fatigue if he had observed prayers of the holy day preceding the crash? We don’t know. His flight schedule has not been released.

The black box, was found July 31 of last year, and sent to the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile, but the BEA (whose involvement is one of “observer” under 1944 Chicago Annex 13) has no page up for the crash. Ask the families, where is their assistance?

The NTSB (also observer) only has this statement: The investigation is being conducted by the Pakistan Safety & Investigation Board, Civil Aviation Authority. The NTSB appointed an Accredited Representative to assist the investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the Country of Manufacture and Design of the engines. Ask the families, where is their assistance?

The ball is in Pakistani's court.

The Pakistani government announced compensation of Rs 500,000 ($5,847) to each family. (Pakistan is signatory to Hague Protocol and Montreal Convention of 1999, under which compensation could be as much as Rs12 million per victim.) The pending Carriage by Air Act 2010 offers minimum compensation of Rs500,000 for death and injury of domestic flight passengers. Airblue has replaced the plane and business is booming.

But not the families of the 152 victims. We still don’t know why it happened. We haven’t heard about families getting compensation. If this were an international flight, there would be an active treaty (Montreal Convention) outlining the guidelines. But in this domestic flight, the families still hanging in the wind, waiting for a report, and waiting for compensation. We know that to get adequate compensation, the families will have to fight it out in court. If you ask the families where their assistance is, they will tell you that there has been none. Should they have to petition the court for the most fundamental victim’s right—just to find out why the airline they trusted with their loved ones lives, the plane they trusted with their loved ones—crashed?

Originally posted by George Hatcher on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 at 2:19 am