On 22 May 2020, Lahore, Pakistan, PK8303 was getting ready for a flight to Karachi, Pakistan. The aircraft operating was a 15-year old Airbus A320-214 owned by Ge Capital Aviation Services. The A320 took its first flight on 17 August 2004 and was leased to China Eastern between September 2004 and June 2014. Then, it was leased to PIA on 31 October 2014 and was registered as AP-BLD. The A320 was powered by CFM56-5B4/P engines, which were recently installed in February and May 2019. The landing gear was installed in October 2014 and is due for servicing and replacement in October 2024. The last maintenance check for the plane was conducted on 21 March 2020. The most inclusive check was conducted on 19 October 2018, where the aircraft had no problems with its engines, landing gear and Avionics. Form 22 March to 7 May 2020, the plane remained grounded owing to flight cancellations among the Covid-19 pandemic. The Civil Aviation Authority declared the aircraft okay for flights until 5 November 2020. From 7 May, the A320 conducted 6 flights. According to Airbus, the aircraft took 47,124 flight hours. The pilot was Captain Sajjad Gul and the co-pilot was First Officer Usman Azam. PK8303 began its takeoff roll around 1300. PK8303 tookoff at 1305 local time. There were 91 passengers and 8 cabin crews on board PK8303.
Lahore tower (LHT): Pakistan 8303, Contact approach 121.3.
PK8303: 121.3… I have a little question if you don’t mind. May I ask?
LHT: Go ahead.
PK8303: The centre and edge light of the runway… The visibility is too much… So are those any reqirements or just left on accidentaly?
LHT: No. Those were turned on for Mahan’s approach, those 2 lights… One is left for the ils. Rnav is for the visual approach…
PK8303: Okay, thanks. Thank you.
1 hour 30 minutes later, after an unexciting flight, the flight crew began to prepare the A320 for an ils approach to runway 25L at 1430. As the pilots plan PK8303 for landing, they found out that the landing gear does not expand. At 1432, PK8303 reported to the ATC of Karachi tower that they were from 3,500 feet to 3,000 feet and established on the ils on runway 25L. At that time, PK8303 was about 8.04km away from the runway 25L doorstep.
PK8303: We are comfortable. We can make it. We are comfortable now, and we’re out of 3,500 for 3,000 established ils 25L.
Karachi tower (KRT): Roger, turn left heading 180.
Since that turn would bring the A320 away from the ils approach, the captain replied, “Sir, we are establishe on ils 25L”. As a result, the tower controller states that the A320 was 8.04 km from touch down and subsequently clears PK8303 to land.
KRT: Pakistan 8303, cleared to land 25L.
Pk8303: Roger, Pakistan 8303.
According to the ils approach chart for Karachi Airport, an aircraft at a distance of 8.04km should be at an altitude of 1,700 feet. However, PK8303 was descending between 4,050 and 3,725 feet meanwhile the controller reported that the flight was 8.04km away. With the landing gears still retracted, the flight crew decides to continue the approach and to try out a ‘belly landing’. Also, during the approach, the flight crew didn’t inform the ATC that the A320’s landing gear failed to engage. PK8303 made ground contact with the runway 2 times. The first one occured at 4,500 feet from the runway doorstep, where the aircraft’s left engine was trusted to scraped the runway. The second one occured at the 5,500 feet mark, where the right engine makes contact. At 1435, the pilots decides to discontinue the landing try and performs a go-around. Subsequently, the pilots contacted the ATC and request the second Ils approach to runway 25L. The ATC tells PK8303 to turn left heading 110 and climb to 3,000 feet.
When the pilots ascend to go-around, it was believed damage has already been caused to the engines by the ground touch, leading to an engine failure mid-air. Observers note that after the go-around, the aircraft’s backup ram air turbine appears to be engaged, whose purpose is to supply electricity to the aircraft’s control systems when all engines fail.
At that time, the pilots began to struggle to maintain an altitude due to engine failure.
The pilots switched the radio from ‘Karachi Tower’ to ‘Karachi approach’ and began turning the aircraft left.
After a few communications, PK8303 crashed in Model Company, a densely populated residential area about 1.36km short of the doorstep of runway 25L. The aircraft broke up and a large post-impact fire erupted. The narrow streets and alleys comprising the area inhibited the rescue services. Of the 99 occupants of the flight, only 2 survived.
Watch the video below if you are too lazy to read the article. (The video contains more details about PK8303. Even if you read the article, I recommend you to watch it.)