Fading Memories

26/6/71, AP-ATO (F-27), Zuberi, LHE-MUX-UET-KHI
On sector MUX-UET we crossed a reciprocal F-27 flight near departure airport (Capt Nasim [Later DC10 & Ground School] & F/O S..A. Aziz) who advised us of a cloudy picture en route and near Quetta. Near destination, captain did not change to QFF setting on the altimeter (regional sea level pressure) but complied when told. The safety altitude was 14500 feet and we were at or slightly above with the reset altimeter in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) over terrain. He started a visual descent and made it but the anxiety induced was high. After arriving at the ramp, the captain was first out to greet the Governor of Baluchistan who was a VIP passenger on our flight, and for whom this foolhardiness was enacted.

LHE= Lahore; MUX = Multan; UET = Quetta (elevation 5287 feet)

30/05/72 AP-AUW (F-27) , Rahat, KHI-Masirah-Salalah-Masirah-KHI

Flight time outbound: 0455
Flight time inbound: 0530

Cockpit crew comprised of Capt S.H. Rahat, Capt F.H.K. Ghori, and First Officer S.M. Husain.

This was a flight conducted to carry Pakistani labour working at Salalah. We landed at Masirah Island probably to discharge some passengers. On departure from Salalah, we were briefed by the airport personnel to avoid the hills on the climb out for there was an insurgency active in the area.

On return sector Masirah—Karachi, the captains were discussing amongst themselves about the depleting fuel situation as a direct route had been taken from Masirah to destination. A ditching possibility was even considered as an alternative. However we landed safely at destination.

Masirah = small island in Arabian Sea & RAF Base (Oman) ; Salalah =  a Oman city

18/4/74 AP-AWZ (B707) , SIN-KUL-CMB-KHI, Ishaq

Cockpit Crew: Captain M. Ishaq, First Officer Idrees Ahmed , First Officer S.M. Husain, Flight Engineer Fazal, and Navigation Officer R.I. James

During the layover at Singapore on this pattern earlier, Navigator James who had also been my instructor at the Ground Training School and had taught navigation briefly, was my mentor to the sights and sounds of that city. He also shepherded me in New York City on one flight with Captain Blake when I was shivering in the cold, and took me shopping to lesser expensive stores. He also introduced to a shop run by the Jewish Community on First Avenue, where the whole PIA crew frolicked periodically.
Extensive weather encountered on sector KUL-CMB. Starting with takeoff in heavy rain with an active thunderstorm and captain instructing First Officer Idrees to monitor his climb out and observe the vertical speed indicator (VSI) for any downward swing. There was a small hill at the end of the runway on the departure end. The radar was on continuously but switched off at times for rest. Continuous flashes of lightning throughout the sector, heavy turbulence, with attendant static discharges on the windshield (St Elmo’s fire). The landing at Colombo was in rain, in clouds to start with, and through an instrument let down (IMC). This flight remains in my memory for a superb display of command.

SIN = Singapore, KUL = Kuala Lumpur; CMB = Colombo; KHI = Karachi

18/3/74, AP-AXA (B707), Israr, KHI-JED-NBO
On departure from Jeddah, the flight plan signed for at Jeddah was left behind on the table. The result was a lot of Jeppesen map activity and interpolation to pass on the estimated times over reporting points (ETA) to the respective radio control centers. Captain didn’t lose his cool.

JED = Jeddah; NBO = Nairobi

15/6/74, AP-AXA (B707), Omair, KHI-ADE-NBO-DAR-NBO
Captain didn’t let me touch the controls on this four sector flight. Must have been really tired at the end. The total flying time was 8.20 hours, not to mention the block times. At Dar-es-Salaam, in honour of visiting dignitary at the airport, Kenneth Kaunda, we witnessed a spectacular African dance festival, simultaneously with an aging DC-3 doing touch and go’s at the airport.

ADE = Aden; NBO = Nairobi; DAR = Dar-es-Salaam

26/5/74, Hashmi, KHI-RWP-PEK , AP-AWV (B707)
Captain was hauled up by Air Traffic Control at Beijing (Peking) at destination for going off the airway. The Chinese air traffic controllers impressed on him to fly the air corridor like a pencil line, which is not possible during turns, such as the turn at Fukang beyond Urumchi, wherer you turn to fly from a north easterly to east-south-east heading, the aircraft swings in a wide arc.

RWP = Rawalpindi (Islamabad Pakistan)

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Hijacking Attempts in PIA

1. B720 on December 03, 1971(City of Comilla)
2. Fokker Friendship F-27 on Jan 28, 1978
3. B747 on March 2, 1978
4. B720 on March 3, 1981(Zulu Papa)
5. Airbus A 300 on March 12, 1988
6. Fokker Friendship F-27 on May 24, 1998 (City of Bannu)

1. City of Comilla

• December 03, 1971
• Aircraft Type: Boeing 720-040B
• AP-AMG (City of Comilla),
• Pakistan seven one two.
• Sector: London-Paris-Rome-Cairo-Karachi
• Crew 6, Passengers 22, Total on board: 28
• Number of hijackers 1, Victim 0

On December 3, 1971, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 720B was operating flight PK 712 from London to Karachi via Paris, Rome and Cairo with seventeen passengers and six crew members, and arrived at Paris’s Orly Airport on schedule. Five passengers boarded the aircraft at Paris. The last of these was a 28-year old French man named Jean Kay, who was able to enter the aircraft without undergoing normal security procedures. Around 1150 the aircraft doors were closed, and during engine start, Jean Kay slipped into aircraft cockpit. armed with a pistol. He threatened the cockpit crew and asked them to shut down the engines while ordering the aircraft’s fuel tanks to be filled to the maximum. He also demanded 20 tons of medicines to be loaded onto the aircraft for delivery in India for the displaced refugees in the unrest in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The incident happened a few hours before the Indian invasion of East Pakistan on Dec 3, 1971.

The hijacker also carried a briefcase with two wires sticking out of it claiming it was a bomb. He threatened to blow up the aircraft with the explosives if his demands were not met. He also arranged for a passenger to act as interpreter in French for communicating with the cockpit crew. For much of the day, the French authorities were under the impression that there were two hijackers involved, identifying them as a Frenchman and a Pakistani. Pakistani passengers were terrified when the hijacker announced that he would let everybody off except them at Beirut, Lebanon before heading to India.

Meanwhile the French authorities began arranging delivery of medicines demanded by the hijacker. By 1715 the first truck load of medicines arrived at the airport. While cases of the medicines were being loaded into the aircraft cargo hold, the hijacker allowed a number of elderly passengers and an infant to disembark. He also allowed stewardesses to serve meals to passengers in the aircraft.

The authorities tested the hijacker’s patience by loading medicines slowly and managed to get his permission also for loading some medicines in the rear section of aircraft cabin. Four French policemen disguised as Red Cross workers entered the passenger cabin through aircraft rear door to load medicines. At the same time two more policemen disguised as Air France aircraft technicians entered aircraft cockpit through a trap door. A policeman disguised as Red Cross worker pounced on the hijacker who retaliated by opening fire from his 9mm pistol. The bullet pierced the police officer’s sweater and slightly wounded him in the hand. The hijacker received a number of blows as he scuffled with the policemen who had entered the aircraft through the trap door. They successfully overpowered and seized the hijacker to end the six hour drama. The subdued hijacker was removed from the aircraft and arrested for interrogation. The only weapon carried by him was the 9mm pistol. The briefcase that he claimed was a bomb contained a French Bible, English-French dictionary, a razor, clothes brush and a pair of harmless electrical wires. At the end of the hijacking, the aircraft was cleared to depart Paris.

2. Fokker Hijacking

AP-ALW, Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400
Sector: Sukkur – Karachi, PK 543

  • Crew: 6
  • Passengers 36
  • Total on board: 42

On January 20,1978 at 0945, AP-ALW departed Sukkur Airport, on a scheduled flight, PK 543 for Karachi. During breakfast service, the hijacker got up from his seat and entered the cockpit. Armed with a revolver and dynamite stick he ordered the crew to divert the aircraft to India. The captain told the hijacker that the aircraft did not have enough fuel for India and it could land at Karachi only. Karachi Airport was informed about the hijacking at 1030 and the hijacked aircraft landed there at 1055. It was parked on Bay 17, some distance away from terminal building, and was surrounded by security personnel including some who hid themselves in bushes near the parking bay.

The first person to contact the hijacker was Chairman PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Malik Nur Khan who went up to the aircraft and communicated with the hijacker through the opened cockpit window. The hijacker said that he was suffering from cancer and demanded Rs. 10 million plus US 1 million dollars, both in cash, for the release of passengers and crew. The hijacker said he needed this money to enjoy the last days of his life which were being cut short by cancer. During the negotiations Nur Khan told the hijacker that PIA could make the arrangements for treating his disease. He also offered himself as a hostage in the aircraft in exchange for the release of passengers and crew. The hijacker rejected those offers.

The hijacker set a deadline to blow up the aircraft along with the hostages by 1500. The authorities informed him that the banks were closed as it was a Friday – a weekly holiday in Pakistan at that time so it was not possible to arrange the cash money demanded by him. In the evening, the hijacker allowed supply of food and water for hostages in the aircraft. Near night time, a total of 14 passengers and an air hostess had been freed by the hijacker. He released them at different times.

The hijacker sent a message to authorities that he wanted to talk to some important person. In response, Nur Khan accompanied by a Pakistan Army officer came closer to the aircraft. The hijacker allowed Nur Khan to enter the aircraft around 2350. After nearly an hour of talks, around 0050 Nur Khan attempted to snatch revolver from the hijacker in the close confines of the cabin. In the ensuing struggle, Nur Khan was shot in the side at point-blank range by the hijacker. By that time, Nur Khan was on top of the hijacker, who was then overpowered by the crew of the aircraft. Nur Khan recovered rapidly from his dangerous wound, and had the distinction of adding the Hilal-e-Shujaat, Pakistan’s highest civil award to the Hilal-e-Jur’at which he had been awarded after the 1965 Pakistan-India war, when he led Pakistan Air Force. He is the only Pakistani citizen to have been awarded both these decorations. The arrested hijacker was identified as Nazir hailing from Mianwali, Pakistan.

3. B747 on March 2, 1978

• Boeing 747-282B, AP-AYV,
• Sector ISB-KHI, PK 301
• Crew: 11 on board,

Cockpit crew:
• Captain Khusro Nawaz Khan
• First Officer Hassan Jafri
• Flight Engineer Khwaja Naseem Ahmed

  • Passengers: 250 on board
  • Total on board: 261
  • Number of hijackers: 1,
  • Victims:0

Description: Flight PK-301 departed from Islamabad at 10:50 AM. About 15 minutes after takeoff a passenger, later identified as Said Hussain sitting in economy class stood up with a live grenade in his hand and announced that he was going to enter the cockpit to ask the pilot to divert flight to New Delhi, India. He ordered passengers not to move. As he turned and started towards the cockpit, a passenger, a retired Pakistan Army Lance Naik, Abdul Malik, got up and grabbed him from behind. In the ensuing scuffle a live grenade in the hijacker’s hand exploded tearing away his wrist. The flying splinters also injured Malik and two other passengers, Israr Ahmed and Sardar Atique sitting near the scene.

Although aircraft cabin fittings were damaged at the place of grenade explosion, luckily the aircraft did not suffer structural damage. The jumbo jetliner safely returned to Islamabad Airport where injured hijacker and passengers were removed from the aircraft and rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Rawalpindi.

After undergoing thorough inspection at Islamabad Airport, the Boeing 747 was declared airworthy and allowed to resume its journey to Karachi. The aircraft left Islamabad at 3:00 PM for Karachi.

Chief of the Army Staff and Chief Martial Law Administrator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq visited injured Abdul Malik at CMH and congratulated him for successfully foiling the hijack attempt. General Zia announced “Nishan-e-Shujaat” to Abdul Malik for his heroism and exemplary courage in dangerous circumstances. “Nishan-e-Shujaat” also carried Rs. 20,000  cash award. In addition, General Zia also announced Rs. 50,000 cash for him. Chairman PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Malik Nur Khan announced a life stipend of Rs. 2,000 per month and travel facilities as enjoyed by PIA employees for Abdul Malik.

4. Zulu Papa

• March 03, 1981, Sector Karachi – Peshawar, PK 326
• Aircraft Type: Boeing 720-030B, AP-AZP
• Crew 9, Passengers 132, Total on board 144
• Number of hijackers 3, Victim 1 passenger

Cockpit crew
• Captain Saeed Khan
• First Officer Junaid Yunus
• Flight Engineer Munawwar

Cabin crew
• Flight Purser Javed Bhatti
• Flight Steward Shakeel Qadri
• Flight Steward Zaffar Ishtiaq
• Flight Steward Muhammad Feroze Maniar
• Air Hostess Naila Nazir – Recipient of the Flight Safety Foundation Heroism Award – Year 1985; Air Hostess Farzana Sharif – After falling ill, freed by hijackers at Damascus Airport, Syria, on March 9.
On March 3, 1981, Pakistan International’s flight PK-326 began as a routine domestic hop from Karachi to Peshawar. In midair three heavily armed men seized the plane, and diverted it to Kabul, Afghanistan. They demanded the release of 92 “political prisoners” from Pakistani jails.


• March 4, twenty nine hostages including women, children and sick men were released in Kabul.
• March 5, the released passengers were flown to Peshawar by PIA Fokker F27 Friendship. Another sick male passenger was released by hijackers.
• March 6, the hijacked Boeing 720B sat in Kabul, and when Pakistan’s President Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq refused to give in, the hijackers shot a Pakistani diplomat Tariq Rahim in full view of the other passengers and dumped his body on the tarmac.
• March 7, the hijackers released two sick Pakistani men and also forced two American women who wanted to remain on board to leave the aircraft. The two air hostesses were also offered freedom but both of them bravely decided to stay in the aircraft.
• March 8, the aircraft flew to Damascus, Syria, and by the time ordeal ended there on March 15, more than 100 hostages had endured 13 days of tension and squalor. At that time it was the longest hijacking episode in the history.

  • March 9, the hijackers freed an air hostess at Damascus Airport.
  • March 11, relatives of two hijackers were freed and flown from Pakistan to Damascus to plead for the lives of hostages but the hijackers refused to meet them. The gunmen repeatedly threatened to blow up the plane, but were talked into long extensions while negotiations continued by radio with Pakistani and Syrian officials in the Damascus control tower. Finally the hijackers said they would settle for just 55 prisoners but they coupled the concession with a grim warning: they would soon kill the three Americans on board. “Be ready to pick up the bodies,” they told the tower. Just twenty minutes before the deadline President Zia gave in, ordering that the prisoners be flown to sanctuary in Libya. “It’s over,” said Pakistani negotiator Sarfraz Khan.
  • But it wasn’t over. First, Pakistani authorities said they could not trace one of the 55 prisoners. And some of the others didn’t want to leave Pakistan.
  • March 15, a PIA Boeing 707 flew 54 prisoners from Karachi to Aleppo, Syria. After arriving at Aleppo, the prisoners were transferred to a smaller Syrian Air aircraft for flight to Libya. Then as the Syrian aircraft carrying the released prisoners was approaching Tripoli, Libya suddenly announced that it had changed its mind about granting asylum to the hijackers and their friends. The prisoners’ plane had nowhere to go, and the hostages’ lives were again in jeopardy. After circling Tripoli Airport, the plane flew to Athens, where officials refused to let it land until the desperate pilot radioed that he had no more fuel and was about to ditch into Aegean Sea. The aircraft was then allowed to refuel in Athens. Finally, Syria announced that it would take in the prisoners and the hijackers, and the gunmen gave up.The Syrian aircraft with the released passengers on its return flight to Syria landed at Damascus Airport where the hijacked aircraft was parked. After the arrival of the political prisoners at Damascus Airport, the three young hijackers, all dressed in shalwar kameez, emerged, gun barrel first, from the rear door. They surrendered their weapons to the Syrian officials and drove off with them to the luxurious Damascus Airport Hotel & Casino where the political prisoners also had been accommodated. After the departure of the hijackers, the freed passengers began leaving the aircraft from the front door. The passengers were followed by the crew members. The captain was the last person to come out of the plane. The long flight was over.

Another PIA crew brought AP-AZP back to Pakistan from Damascus. The aircraft was ferried to Karachi by Capt. Syed Irtiza and First Officer Ahsan Aftab Bilgrami. It landed at Karachi Airport on March 16, at 1716. The freed passengers and crew members were flown to Peshawar on March 18 by PIA from Jeddah, where they had been sent by the Government of Pakistan to perform Umrah after their release in Damascus.

AP-AZP was withdrawn from use and retired in April 1981. Later it was put on display at Jabees Funland in New Clifton, Karachi where it became source of joy and happiness for young children. A few years later, it was removed from the park and sold to scrap metal dealers.

1985’s Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Heroism Award was presented to hijacked aircraft’s Air Hostess Naila Nazir for her handling of the tense and dangerous situation during 13 days of the ordeal. At that time, Naila was 19 years-old and had joined the airline just two months ago. The hijackers offered Naila to leave the aircraft at Damascus Airport but she decided to stay with the rest of passengers and crew till the end during which she took good care of passengers.
The FSF Heroism Award was established in 1968 to recognize civil aircraft crew members or ground personnel whose heroic actions exceeded the requirements of their jobs. The selection of the ‘FSF Heroism Award’ recipients is determined by the degree of personal risk involved in the heroic act; the nature of the courage, perseverance and other personal characteristics that were displayed; and the degree to which the heroism was outside normal levels of duty and ability.

5. Airbus A 300

• Sector: Karachi-Quetta-Lahore, PK 320
• March 12, 1988, Airbus A300B4-203, AP-BCJ
• Crew: 13, Passengers: 143, Total on board: 156
• Hijacker: 1, Victims: 0

PK-320 left Karachi on schedule for flight to Lahore via Quetta. While it was some 100 miles from Quetta, a passenger seated in the First Class left his seat and went into the rest room. After coming out from there, he headed for the cockpit, and with a revolver ordered the pilots to divert the flight to Afghanistan or India. At that time the cockpit door was open and a passenger who was present inside the cockpit got hold of the hand of the hijacker in which he was holding the revolver and pushed him out of the cockpit. Before the hijacker could control his balance he was grabbed by air guard Liaquat. While the hijacker and air guard struggled to overpower each other, the hijacker fired a number of shots, three of which hit the air guard. The hijacker also got hit by a bullet fired by him.

A number of passengers including PIA General Manager Sardar Muhammad Aslam also arrived at the scene to assist the air guard and punched, kicked and hit the hijacker. The hijacker who was wearing shalwar kameez and a large turban was subdued and the crew tied his hands and legs with strings and turban that he was wearing. Within five minutes the whole situation was brought under control. The pilot through an announcement informed passengers that the hijacker has been overpowered and there was nothing to worry.

Luckily the bullets did not damage aircraft airframe.The air guard received medical treatment from two doctors present on board the aircraft, and the bullet wounds were not life threatening. The Airbus landed at Quetta Airport on schedule. At Quetta, the three wounded persons, i.e. hijacker, air guard and PIA General Manager were rushed to the hospital. The PIA General Manager was injured when he joined other passengers to overpower the hijacker. The hijacker was identified as 28-year old Abdul Mannan Achakzai.

All passengers disembarked the aircraft there and underwent a security screening process. Baggage and cargo items were also removed from the aircraft for checks. About five hours later, after a thorough inspection of passengers and aircraft, PK-320 was cleared to depart for Lahore.

6. City of Bannu

• May 24, 1998
• Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 200 , AP-BCZ, “City of Bannu,”
• Pk554
• Sector Turbat-Gwadar-Karachi

Crew: 5
Passengers: 28,
Total on board: 33
Number of hijackers 3
Victims: 0

Flight PK-554 departed Turbat Airport at 4:40 PM for flight to Karachi via Gwadar. The F27 at that time was carrying a total of 29 passengers including three traveling to Gwadar. At 5:35 PM it landed at Gwadar Airport where three Gwadar-bound passengers disembarked. During Fokker’s 20 minute stay at Gwadar Airport, two passengers boarded the aircraft for Karachi. The aircraft carrying 27 passengers and 5 crew members departed Gwadar at 5:55 PM for its final destination Karachi, where it was expected to land at 6:55 PM.

After takeoff from Gwadar, a young man got up from his seat and moved towards the aircraft cockpit. An Air Hostess tried to stop the man from entering the cockpit but she was pushed away. He entered the cockpit and with a pistol ordered the pilots to divert the flight to Jodhpur, India. He was joined by two colleagues in their quest to hijack the aircraft. An announcement was made by the pilot to inform the passengers that aircraft has been hijacked and would now be flown to India. The pilot managed to secretly set the aircraft transponder to the hijack code for conveying the distress signal and alert air traffic controllers on the ground. The aircraft on Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) and Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) radars appeared to deviate from its flight path and head for Indian air space. Two PAF F-7 supersonic fighter interceptor aircraft that were on a routine Combat Air Patrol (CAP) in the area began monitoring the hijacked flight and escort it. The pilot of flight PK-554 told the hijackers that the aircraft was running out of fuel and he would land at Bhuj Airport in India. The shrewd pilot then landed the aircraft at Hyderabad Airport in Pakistan but told the hijackers it was at Bhuj Airport in India and needed refueling. The hijackers did not understand English, so it was possible for the cockpit crew and airport authorities to discuss the situation and plan their actions in that language. The authorities at Hyderabad Airport also switched off the airport lights to prevent the hijackers from identifying the airfield. One of the three hijackers stayed inside the cockpit, another positioned himself near the main door of the aircraft and the third roamed through the aircraft cabin. All three were wearing shalwar kameez.

A number of Pakistani government and security officials pretending to be Indian officials started talks with the hijackers. The hijackers demanded a meeting with Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India to present their demands. The hijackers were unhappy over reports of the Pakistan’s Government plan to conduct nuclear tests in Baluchistan. They sought assurance that the tests would not be conducted on that soil. The hijackers also complained against inappropriate distribution of funds for Baluchistan and lack of humanitarian assistance for areas affected by floods in Makran.

The hijackers threatened to kill crew members and passengers if their demands were not fulfilled. One of the hijackers shouted that he would blow up the aircraft and one of his partners displayed a bag that he claimed contained explosives. Meanwhile, Pakistani officials acting as Indians continued holding talks with the hijackers and during this process assessed the overall situation for planning the action to overpower the hijackers. The aircraft also received food and water for passengers and crew. Around 11:35 PM, the hijackers sent the aircraft’s Ground Engineer Sajjad Chaudhry to get water and food and ask the airport authorities to refuel the aircraft for flight to New Delhi. The Ground Engineer returned to the aircraft with food and water. At night, the aircraft’s lights went off and the cabin became hot. In the darkness the terrified children began crying and shouting, and at that point the hijackers allowed what they thought was an Indian aircraft technician on board ( actually he was a Pakistan Army officer) to leave the aircraft. After the disguised man left the aircraft around 2:50 AM, the Pakistani officials acting as Indians managed to persuade the hijackers to free women, children and infants on board the aircraft. While women and children were getting down from the aircraft, other passengers also tried to get out and in the melee that followed the hijackers were easily overpowered by the disguised Pakistanis including men belonging to Pakistan Army and Police. The three hijackers were identified as Pakistan nationals Sabir, Shabbir and their leader Shahswar. Two pistols were recovered from their possession. A special PIA F27 flight transported freed passengers from Hyderabad to Karachi where it landed at 7:55 AM on May 25. Later, the released aircraft was also flown to Karachi where it landed at 9:30 AM on the same day.

Courtesy of : historyof pia.com

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An Uncomfortable Decision

AP-AXK on Dec 23, 1980, 0540-0920; 1030-1405*

*Time is in UTC

Soon after I got my command on the B707/720B aircraft series, I was confronted by a maintenance problem which in hindsight makes me uncomfortable even now. I was given a B720 out of a maintenance check that morning for a scheduled flight to Colombo, Sri-Lanka and back. We took off from Karachi on our flight and during climb out as we headed for the Indian airspace, I felt one set of spoilers misbehaving in roll control. Since the outboard aileron is locked out when the flaps are up, the spoilers, inboard and outboard assist in turning*. The inboard spoilers were not functioning in coordination with the turn and the inboard aileron. So I simply deactivated them with the “inboard off” switch, and continued to Colombo, of course with flight engineer’s knowledge. Reflecting on this action causes me to think on whether I was right in pressing on. The aircraft presented no problem during flight after that action, but if an emergency descent had been required,** both set of spoilers would have been needed to make the 4 minutes target to descend to 14000 feet from cruise level. Also I had to be careful on the landing, since there was the tendency of the nose to pitch down after landing in this condition.

There was no maintenance at Colombo for the problem and a dilemma presented itself. Why didn’t I turn back initially out of Karachi? I had to return to Karachi with the problem, by keeping that switch deactivated, and with full knowledge of my action.

* All aircraft turn by the help of ailerons which are the cut away you see on the trailing edge (rear) of the wing. In the B707/720 series of aircraft, there are two sets of ailerons on each wing, the inboard and the outboard. As the flaps go up in stages after take off, the outboard ailerons are locked out, meaning that they do not function anymore. The aircraft is now turned by the inboard ailerons and the rolling motion assisted by the spoilers, inboard and outboard. So, for a right turn, the right inboard aileron will go slightly up (less lift), the right inboard and outboard spoilers will also go up, to spoil the lift on the right wing. The opposite happens on the left wing where the lift is increased to roll the wing up. As the left wing rises up, the horizontal portion of the total lift of the wing, enables the turning moment through centripetal force. The rudder plays no part in the turning process, except to balance the turn by preventing skidding and slipping in the air. The same spoilers, after landing, rise up to spoil the lift on the wing, since we are on the ground. Closer towards the wing root are the flaps on the trailing edge (rear) of the wing. They are used for slow speed flight.

An aircraft slips in a turn if the bank angle is greater for the airspeed it is flying at, and skids if the angle of bank is less for the airspeed. The yaw damper, a servo motor deflects the rudder trim tab to dampen skidding and slipping and thus provides greater stability in turns for high speed aircraft. Yawing motion is left and right of the vertical axis.

** Emergency descent from cruising altitude to 14,000 feet in 4 minutes as aircraft has depressurized.

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Acquired Experience

“In considering how a pilot’s job description has changed from the hands-on era to the current era of programming and monitoring computers, old timers suggest that today’s pilots better be careful or they might program themselves out of a job. I don’t think that there are many old aviators from the hands-on era who envy the pilots of these aerial transport yawners. There are a multitude of pilots flying the jets today who haven’t had the privilege of getting scared. The greatness of an airline doesn’t come from its large size, or all the updated equipment. It’s the employees who make the best of what they have and dedicate their hearts and soul to making it work. That’s what makes a resplendent airline.”–The Golden Years of Flying by Capt Tex Searle

In my career with PIA as a captain and co-pilot, I flew with 124 different captains on three different aircraft. It was an opportunity to acquire experience and a wealth of knowledge. One of the problems facing the aviation industry is lack of experience for the role assigned. In North America, an airline co-pilot flies with one captain for some length of time which in my opinion shouldn’t be so. I have compiled a list of the seniors who taught me to stay alive:

Fokker F-27 Captains

Rawalpindi Base

  • August 1969–Oct 1970–
  • August 1975–March 1976

Amin Akhtar; Abbas; Fida Muhammad Khan-deceased; Manzoor Chaudhry–deceased; Masud Ahmad–deceased; Nayyar Mohsin; Osman Khan–deceased; Syed Haider Rahat–deceased; Mushtaq Shariff; Shaukat Ali; Syed Ahmad Hussain Rizvi–deceased

Lahore Base–November 1970–August 1971
Anwarullah–deceased Fokker crash Rawat, Rawalpindi 6/8/70; Akbar Afridi-deceased; Fazluddin Haqqi; Waheed Hasan Jaswal; Mansoor E. Khan; Mansoor Malik; Mubashir Ahmed–deceased Fokker crash 1971 war; Munir; Zahid Hussain; Mohammad Zaki-deceased; Mohammad Ashraf Zuberi; Ashraf–left for Biman 1971 (Bangladesh Airlines); Tassawar Hussain Naqvi–deceased; Saadat-deceased; Shahid Ali-deceased

Karachi Base

  • September 1971–October 1973;
  • December 1974–July 1975

Muhammad Akmal–deceased; Amjad Faizi; Aqeel Ahmed Hashmi; Ansar Siddiqui; S.U.R. Bokhari-deceased; A.Q. Bhurgiri; Shahnawaz Dara; Fazle Hussain Khan Ghori–deceased; Humayun–deceased, left for Libya 1972; Mir Rashid; Mussawar Sangdila; Mansoor Moghal; T. Mannan-deceased; Nabi Draz Khan–deceased; Etizaz Rabbani–deceased; Raziuddin–deceased; Sajid Quraishi–deceased; Agha Ahmed Teherany–deceased; Mian Shahid Waseem; Wajid Ali Shah; Hasan Zaheer

707/720 Captains

  • November 1973–November 1974
  • May 1976–January 1977
  • May 1980–August 1987

Ahmad; Shamim; Kazi-deceased; Amin Akhtar; Hashmat-deceased; Omair-deceased; Mir; Kadri; Baqir; Najam ul Huda; Musheer Ahmad Suri; Reginald Norman Luther; M.S.K. Lodhi; M.R. Mirza; Abbas; Mohammad Afzal; Akbar Afridi; Anis Khan; Ashfaq Hussain; Mohammad Akmal–deceased; A.T.M.A. Hussain; Aqeel Ahmad Hashmi; Azmat; Bashar–deceased; Shahnawaz Dara; Aijaz Dodhy; Ejaz ul Haq; Farrukh Naqi; Morgan Felix; Fida Mohammad ; Ghias uddin; B. Ahmed; Hamid Hussain–deceased; Hameed Malik–deceased; Fazluddin Haqqi; Idrees Hussain; Iftekhar Janjua-deceased Kathmandu crash of Airbus A300; Imam-uddin Khwaja-deceased; Muhammad Ishaq–deceased; J.M. Quraishi; Nasir Pervaiz Junaidi; Khalid Iqbal; Khursheed Cheema; Riaz Khokhar; Syed Kamal; M.I. Younis; M.S.K. Lodhi; M. Salim; Munir Khan; Mushtaq Cheema; Maqsood-deceased; Mahfooz; Mirza.Rafiq Mazhar; Mussawar Sangdila; Manzoor Chaudhry–deceased; Mansoor Moghal; Mansoor Elahi Khan; M. Zubair; Najam ul Huda; Nisar Chughtai; Nayyar Islam; Safdar Nana; Osman Yunus; Pervaiz Saeed; Musheer Ahmad Suri; Nasir Rana; Raonaq; Etizaz Rabbani–deceased; Sami Ahmed–deceased; Sheikh Rashid–deceased; Sadiq Ali; Sajid Quraishi–deceased; Shahab; Shuja ul Hasan; Shaukat Ali; Shafiq Quadri–deceased; Tahir Rashid Mir; Agha Ahmed Teherany–deceased; Tariq; Wajid Ali Shah; Syed Sultan Zaman; Zia Mohammad; Lovelace; Drayton; Siegel; Stille;Banfield; Blake; Easton; Gingles; Williams

747 Captains-March 1977–April 1980
S.S. Akber; Ashfaq –deceased; Anwar Khan–deceased; Aleem Abdul Aziz–deceased; Afaq Rizvi; Ahmed Ali; Bashir Akhtar–deceased; Chaudhry; Donald Frazer; Haider Ali Fazil-deceased; Hameed Malik–deceased; Muhammad Ishaq–deceased; Imam-uddin Khwaja–deceased; Khalid Ahmad; Khusro–deceased; K.R.Khan–deceased; Mobin-deceased; M.I. Rehman–deceased; Mian Aziz–deceased; M.M. Mahmood; N.H. Naqvi–deceassed, murdered by servant; M.F. Nasir–deceased, road accident after retirement; Rahim-deceased; Raja Ziaullah–deceased; Saeed Akhtar; Saleemul Haq; Salim Akbar; Siraj Ali-deceased; M.M. Salehjee-deceased; Shaukat Hussain Khan–deceased; A.A. Shah; Muhammad Zaki-deceased

TTL Captains 161-37 = 124; some captains werte with me on two equipments

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PIA Firsts

  • The first airline from an Asian land country and the first airline from a Muslim country to fly the Super Constellation.
  • The first Asian airline to operate a jet aircraft.
  • The first Asian airline to be granted maintenance approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Registration Board, predecessor of the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  • The first non-communist airline to fly to the People’s Republic of China, and to operate a service between Asia and Europe via Moscow.
  • The first airline in Asia to induct the new technology Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
  • An IBM 1401, the first computer in Pakistan, was installed in PIA.
  • The first airline to introduce a second route to People’s Republic of China over the mighty Karakoram Mountains.
  • The first airline to show in-flight movies on international routes.
  • PIA set up Pakistan’s first planetarium at Karachi.
  • The first airline in South Asia to introduce auto-ticketing facility.
  • The first airline in the world to fly to Tashkent, capital of the newly independent state of Uzbekistan.
  • First airline in the world to start Air Safari with jet aircraft.
  • First Asian airline to start flights to Oslo, the beautiful capital city of Norway.
  • First airline in the world to induct Boeing 777-200LR, the world’s longest range commercial airliner.
  • First airline in South Asia to offer the facility of seat reservation through mobile phone.

Courtesy: HistoryofPIA.com

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Is Flying Inherently Dangerous?

In training to be a pilot on PIA Flying Training Academy’s  four Cessna 150s at Karachi, Pakistan from May 1967 to May 1969, the only mishap encountered was when one fellow pilot trainee while beating up a truck during prohibited solo low flying in the training area,  hit it with the nose wheel, which sheared off disrupting fuel supply.

The engine failed and he made a forced landing in the dirt. The aircraft was put back into service after necessary repair and the pilot survived scratch less but was demoted  to the next course.  He is on the verge of retirement now after a long career flying airliners, the last one a B747 for  Saudia. There were twenty eight trainees and not a single engine failure occurred during the time, and all of us acquired the CPL.

Flying knowledge is a continuous acquisition process like learning, and never ceases and requires constant skill and practice. In absence of these, it acquires an increase in risk which can lead to a mishap. There is no room for complacency, and constant mental rehearsing of the relevant SIDS and STARS, instrument let downs and taxi patterns on the ground before every flight assures a degree of safety and confidence.

On every flight, in fact the night before, one goes over the departure procedure, the destination landing approach plates with safe altitudes and the route weather that may be encountered at the time of the year. NOTAMs have to be looked in. For the airline pilot, this service is provided by the dispatcher. This is repeated every time you go up.

Accidents have to be drummed in, and through the media, awareness to the people, since the first line of defense is an educated lot. A lot of general aviation accidents take place because of too little preparation for the flight, and little knowledge generally of what weather is out there and a lot of complacency.

Pilot encounters with unplanned Instrument Meteorological Conditions when not instrument qualified result mostly in panicking while trying to maneuver and break clear of clouds. Instrument training should be a must on initial license issue at the Private Pilot Licence stage.


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Fire Warning at Top of Descent (Athens)

On 18th June 1985, on sector KHI-ATH (Karachi –Athens), departure and arrival at 0540Z and 1135Z,*respectively. Aircraft is a B707-340C, AP-AWY, freighter with call sign Pakistan Eight Zero Five. Routing is via Dubai–Bahrain–Damascus–Nicosia.


This flight was flown with First Officer Yousaf Mamsa (deceased in attack on Pearl Continental Hotel, Peshawar during recent unrest in Pakistan) and Flight Engineer Hamid Mahmood. There was a flight attendant present. The aircraft had an entry of a fire warning discrepancy in the maintenance log on departure.

At top of descent (TOD) near Athens, the fire warning bell sounded with associated warning light on #1 engine. The engines are numbered from left to right meaning #1 is the extreme left engine viewed from the cockpit. The engine was visually checked by me for smoke or any sign of fire through the cockpit side window along with the engine parameters on the panel in front me. There was no vibration. We had already discussed between ourselves the action to be followed in case the fire warning came on (myself, flight engineer and first officer), and I had told them of my intention to treat it as a fire warning. According to our airline procedures (Flight Operations Manual), this necessitated shutting down the engine and firing the fire extinguishers (two extinguisher bottles). This was done in the prescribed manner and the first officer and flight engineer briefed by me prior to landing; the first officer told to neutralize the rudder trim before landing on my call, full flaps to be used when committed to land and the overshoot procedure discussed.

Athens Air Traffic Control had been notified earlier at the time of occurrence and the Tower now wanted to confirm if we were declaring an emergency. I replied negative, adding that this was to be a normal landing. Company was notified on their VHF channel and informed about the maintenance squawk.

It was broad daylight, past noon and the landing was normal on Runway 33R, though I did feel that the aircraft was heavy and required power on the 3-engine Instrument Landing System Approach (ILS), and  associated care with the rudder once the rudder trim came off. This was taught in the regular 6 monthly simulator checks.

Our handling agent, Mr. Thannasis Dimitriu, a local resident of Athens later told me the next morning that it was in the newspapers that a PIA aircraft had declared an emergency at Athens the previous day and was provided all the necessary ground support in the form of fire trucks standing by at the runway. We both had a good laugh at this dramatization. The crew performed their roles flawlessly and I am grateful for the support provided by them.

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