Whom to blame for airplane crashes and how the Biman Bangladesh airlines crashed in Dhaka, Singapore & Sylhet

According to transportation safety boards and air crash investigation teams, airplane accidents occur at a rate of one per 1.2 million flights. It means probability of a regular person facing a crisis on air is very less, almost none in fact. Probability of dying is even slighter; 1 in 11 million. The odds of being in a car accident are around 1 in 12,000 in a developed country and around 1 in 2,000 in a developing country like Bangladesh. So, air traveling in reality is a safe medium. But due to wide media coverage on air crashes, people tend to think otherwise. Then again, most people fear air traveling because a sense of ‘helplessness’ digs in mind of most passengers when things go wrong on board.

Surprising as it may sound, one can make the traveling a little safer just by opting to sit on the back of an airplane. It has been proved that passengers sitting at the back of a flight have more possibilities of survival compared to passengers sitting in front of the airplane. Another way to increase chance of survival in case of a crash is not to be drunken. Conscious people make their way out of an aircraft even when there is no visibility but drunk people have less chances of getting out in such situations.

The scariest travel time on a flight
Most airplane crashes take place during the first three minutes of takeoff or during the last eight minutes before landing. So these 11 minutes are the scariest time for passengers on board. In the most severe time of a crash, passengers do not actually die when the airplane hits the ground; most die before or after that – for breathing issues due to toxic gases and smoke before the crash or for the fire due to explosions after hitting the ground.

Who is to blame?
Airplanes crashes occur mostly due to pilot errors and mechanical failures. Pilots were responsible for 45% of the airplane crashes till this date. The number includes taking wrong decisions during bad weathers. 22% of the air crashes till this date happened due to severe mechanical failures. Some crashes are caused when pilots misinterpret equipment information, miscalculate weather conditions or fail to identify mechanical errors until it is too late.

Most catastrophic incident of Biman Bangladesh Airlines
The most tragic incident of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight crash occurred on 5 August 1984 in Dhaka. All 49 people on board were killed. It was an F-27 airplane, build by Fokker Company. It was raining in Dhaka. Visibility was low.

The airplane was coming to Dhaka from Chittagong. The pilots first tried to land in runway 23. They could not see the runway and a missed approach was executed. Pilots then tried to make an ILS approach (a radio beam transmitter that provides a direction for approaching aircraft) for runway 14 but failed to land again.

On the third attempt, the airplane crashed into a swamp near the Jashimuddin road in Uttara, just 500m away from the runway. It was broken into several pieces.  

This airplane was actually built by the manufacturer for PIA. Delivery date was in 1971. As the war started in March 1971, Fokker Company could not deliver it to PIA. After the independence of Bangladesh, PIA refused to take the plane as its existing fleet became surplus. Later this same plane (registration S2-ABJ) was gifted by the Dutch government to Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

Crash of Biman Boeing 707 in Singapore in 1980
In November 1976, PIA handed over a Boeing 707 (registration AP-AWV) to Biman Bangladesh Airlines. It was a gift to Bangladesh to help Biman fly pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. This aircraft only survived four years. In 1980, it crashed in Singapore and was damaged beyond repair. Right after airborne, attaining a height of about 100 feet from the Singapore-Paya Lebar Airport, all four engines of the airplane lost power and it dropped on the runway with the gear retract. It slid for about 1900 feet before coming to a halt. Before being gifted to Biman Bangladesh Airlines by the PIA, the airplane survived an act of terrorism when a bomb, placed under the passenger seat, exploded at Islamabad Airport on 5 July 1975. The explosion ripped a hole in fuselage. There were no casualties because the airplane was on ground at the time of the explosion.

Loss of Air Force planes before even induction

Pakistan Air Force donated ninety F6 jets to Bangladesh Air Force in late 1980's early 1990's. All of these jets were damaged during a cyclone in Chittagong before being inducted.

Crash of F-28 in Sylhet three kilometers away from the airport
An F 28 Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight, on a domestic flight from Dhaka, crash landed three kilometers away from Sylhet airport on 25 December 1997. It was carrying 56 people. Through the airplane made quite a hard landing, it did not break apart or burst into flames. The pilots had visibility issues due to heavy winter fogs.

Air traffic controllers sitting in Sylhet airport had no idea what happened to the plane. They were informed by the villagers after two hours of the crash. 17 people were injured in the incident.

Significant crashes in Bangladesh before independence
Before independence of Bangladesh, a PIA Douglas DC-3 flight crashed in Charlakhi Island in the Bay of Bengal on 1 July 1957. All 20 passengers and four crew were killed. In December 1970, a Cargolux Canadair CL-44 flight crashed into a farmhouse in Tejgaon, Dhaka.


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