July 11, 2006

Pakistan plane crash investigators find recorders

By Aamir Ashraf

KARACHI (Reuters) - Investigators have recovered the flight
data and cockpit voice recorders of a Pakistan International
Airlines' (PIA) plane that crashed killing all 45 people on
board, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The Fokker F-27 turboprop, built in 1964, crashed on Monday
on the outskirts of the central city of Multan two minutes
after take off.

Shahnawaz Dara, head of PIA's flight safety wing, said the
flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder with
information about the aircraft's final moments were recovered
in good condition.

"Pilots did not contact the control tower before the crash
... the voice recorder will give a direction on what was
happening at the time of the crash and why there was no contact
from the cockpit crew," Dara told Reuters.

"Both pieces of equipment are good enough to find out what
happened to the aircraft before the crash."

Pakistan's aviation regulator said help of foreign experts
could be sought to examine the recorders if necessary.

Witnesses said they saw flames coming from the aircraft
after it took off, and it appeared to be tilting to the right.

It was the third Fokker Friendship operated by PIA to have
crashed since 1970.

PIA officials said there were no plans to ground the
remaining six Fokkers in the fleet and all of the planes,
including the one that crashed, were airworthy.

However, airlines' pilots demanded an immediate phasing-out
of the Fokkers, which are due to be replaced in any case.

PIA is replacing the Fokkers with ATR 42-500 aircraft from
Avions de Transport Regional -- a joint venture between
France-based European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company and
Italy's Alenia Aeronautica.

One of the new planes has already been delivered and six
more are due by mid-2007, PIA spokesman Hasan Jaffery said.