The preliminary report on the crash of Pakistani International Airlines Flight PK8303 is out, and it looks really bad for the pilots. On May 22nd, the Airbus A320 crashed into a crowded Karachi neighborhood on its second attempt at a full-stop landing, killing 98 passengers and crew, including both the pilot and co-pilot, but it miraculously killed no one on the ground. Two passengers survived the crash.
The Airbus’ landing gear position has been a source of some controversy, though eventually there was substantial photographic and physical evidence, including huge scrape marks on the runway, that the plane had survived a gear-up landing—and thrust reverser application—only to somehow get airborne and go around. The plane’s engines failed on that second attempt to land on approach and crashed short of the runway into a neighborhood with very closely spaced homes.
The report also details the plane’s flight path on that first approach. At one point the pilots were discussing the country’s coronavirus woes when air traffic control warned them that they were high on the approach—7200 feet when they should have been at 2500 feet. The pilots reassured the controllers that they had everything under control and then, improbably, they resumed talking about the pandemic. The gear was extended, probably to help them lose the excess altitude, and then the gear, and the speed brakes, were retracted at 1740 feet by the apparently distracted crew, which led to the gear-up landing and disaster.