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HomeWorldPakistan grounds French-built ATR planes after fatal crash of PIA flight 661

Pakistan grounds French-built ATR planes after fatal crash of PIA flight 661

Pakistan’s national carrier on grounded its 10 ATR turboprop planes on Monday after a crash last week that killed 47 people and a second aircraft reported technical issues shortly before it was supposed to take off overnight.

Pakistan International Airlines flight 661 smashed into a hillside in the country’s north while travelling from the city of Chitral to the capital Islamabad last Wednesday.

The airline has said one of the plane’s two turboprop engines failed.

Another PIA ATR faced “technical issues” late Sunday just before it was set to take off from the central city of Multan on a flight to southern Karachi and was called back to its parking bay, though the airline denied media reports that one of the engines caught fire.

The fleet would now undergo thorough testing after the two incidents, the airline said.

“In view of Civil Aviation Authority’s decision of holding shakedown tests of PIA’s entire ATR fleet, it has been decided to keep all 10 ATR aircraft grounded till they are cleared after thorough examination,” PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said in a statement.

ATR is a Toulouse, France-based turboprop aircraft maker and “the world leader in the market for regional aircraft up to 90 seats”, according to the company’s website.

The company was established in 1981 and is a partnership between two European aeronautics firms, the Airbus Group and Leonardo.

Its ATR 42-500 is a twin turboprop plane that carries 48 passengers in standard configuration and is capable of operations on both paved and unpaved strips. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a division of the US manufacturer.

ATR has so far declined to comment while Pakistani authorities investigate the causes of the crash.

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