Three Squadron Leaders and one Flight Lieutenant of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) were killed when two PAC MFI-17 Mushshak basic trainer aircrafts were involved yesterday in a mid air collision. Around 12 more people were injured when the debris hit a residential colony, near the town of Risalpur, Nowshera District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. According to the PAF sources, the tragic event occurred yesterday at 10:20 am. Both the aircrafts were conducting routine training missions.
Three Squadron leaders of the PAF, Zaigham Abbas Ali from Karachi, Syed Maqsood Rizvi from Haripur, and Moazam Ali from Faisalabad were killed in the incident, which also claimed the life of Flight Lieutenant Shahid Mustafa of Lahore. Both the trainer aircraft took off from the Risalpur PAF base, which is also home to the Pakistan Air Force Academy. According to the Nowshera district police officer Muhammad Hussain, the crash occurred just 5 miles away from the air base. He said that the wings of both the aircrafts collided in mid-air, which caused a huge fire. He added that a number of people were injured on the ground when the resulting debris came down. Both the injured and the remains of the airmen were taken to the Nowshera Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
Eyewitnesses said that some of the airmen were alive after the crash, but perished in the resulting fire shortly after. Local people tried to rescue those who were alive, but the lack of availability of sophisticated rescue tools hampered their efforts. Local people criticized the official rescue mission, saying that the fire service personnel came after much delay and the ambulance never reached the scene. Locals were forced to transport the dead and injured in their own makeshift vehicles.
PAF sources said that they will be conducting a board investigation to find out what went wrong. They said they will investigate for both the technical and manual faults. Local media criticized the PAF, pointing out that the latest crash was the sixth such incident in a period of just seven months. Last week, a PAF Dassault Mirage V had crashed in Balochestan, although no loss of life was reported.
The PAC MFI-17 Mushshak is the most important basic trainer aircraft used in the PAF. It is a locally manufactured version of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter aircraft. Apart from the PAF, the aircraft is also used by the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Syrian Air Force, Egypt Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman. It is manufactured by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), which is based in Kamra, Punjab.