A final investigation report into the December 2016 PIA plane crash that occurred near Havelian area of Abbottabad district leaving all 47 people on board dead has revealed that the accident happened due to a technical fault and that the pilot was not responsible for the mishap.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) submitted a 207-page report before the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday after completing the probe after four years.

A two-member bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, heard a petition regarding investigation into the national flag carrier’s flight PK-661 that met the fatal end.

The CAA pointed out the negligence of the PIA stating the crashed plane was out of order.

The report maintained that the ATR 42-500 aircraft needed maintenance and that the pilot was not responsible for the accident but the crash occurred due to a technical fault.

Rescue workers survey the site of a plane that crashed near the village of Saddha Batolni, near Abbotabad, December 8, 2016. — Reuters/File

The report said that the accident took place due to malfunctioning of two turbine blades after which the aircraft engine had stopped working.

According to the regulations, turbine blades must be replaced every 10,000 hours of flight while those of the crashed plane had been flying for more than the allotted hours.

The blade should have been replaced during the aircraft’s maintenance in November 2016, the report said, adding that the plane flew for more than 93 additional hours until December 7.

The report urged the PIA to pay attention to the timely maintenance of all the aircraft and timely recycling of the overspeed governor.

The CAA said that the report had been released with the concurrence of stakeholders from US, France and Canada.

During the hearing, Justice Mazhar asked who was responsible for the accident.

“Whose negligence caused the incident?” the judge inquired.

Director Investigation Board Air Commodore Usman Ghani replied that some of the findings of the report could not be made public.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked what steps were being taken to prevent such accidents in future.

The air commodore maintained that the investigation was carried out in accordance with the international standards.

“Recommendations and tips are also given to avoid further accidents,” he said.

Justice Mazhar questioned what other decisions had been taken for the ATR aircraft.

“The accident was mainly due to a malfunction of the plane?” the court asked.

The court summoned PIA director safety management to inform about the steps taken to avoid such accidents in future and adjourned the hearing of the case until December 1.

In his plea, petitioner Iqbal Kazmi had adopted the stance that a full-fledged investigation should be carried out into the Havelian plane crash and that action should be taken against those responsible for the tragedy.

An ATR 42-500 aircraft had taken off from the Chitral Airport for Islamabad on December 7, 2016, but it crashed near Havelian killing all 47 people, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and Chitral deputy commissioner Osama Warraich.

With an accumulated Rs400 billion loss, the PIA was this week given the go-ahead to reduce its workforce by a third.

The airline’s crisis has been deepened by the impact on travel of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the fallout from a scandal over fake pilot credentials.

The national carrier was barred from flying to Europe and the United States after the national civil aviation regulator named dozens of pilots as holding allegedly dubious licences.