Pakistani aircraft that crashed was doing circling approach to runway

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The Airblue Airbus A321 that crashed yesterday, killing all 152 people on board, was doing a circling approach to runway 12 at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

The "aircraft was [doing] a visual circling approach to land at runway 12, it was not in a holding pattern", Airblue CEO, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, says in an email to ATI.

He says: "The weather at the time was foggy with low clouds."

"The crash site is north of the 30-12 runway at ISB [Islamabad airport] and about 10 kilometres [away] in the Margalla mountains".

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Shahid says the pilot in command of the A321, local registration AP-BJB, was Capt Pervez Iqbal Chaudhary who had over 25,000hr of flying experience.

Pervez as well as the aircraft's five other crew and 146 passengers were all killed in the crash. The accident occurred yesterday at around 10:00hr local time.

The aircraft had left Karachi airport earlier that morning and was performing a scheduled passenger service to Islamabad.

Initial reports quoted the country's interior minister, Rehman Malik, as saying there were five survivors but his assessment later proved to be in correct.

The country's prime minister, Yousef Raza Gilani, has declared today (29 July) a day of national mourning.

The last time that Pakistan had a fatal crash, involving a passenger commercial aircraft, was in 2006 when a Pakistan International Airlines Fokker F27 crashed and killed 45 people.

Airblue is a privately-owned carrier and the country's second-largest airline. Besides the aircraft that crashed, the airline also has two other A321s as well as one Airbus A320 and two Airbus A319s, says Flightglobal's ACAS database.

Airbus says the aircraft that crashed was built in the year 2000 and had accumulated approximately 34,000 flight hours in some 13,500 flights.

ACAS says International Lease Finance is the aircraft's owner. Airbus says Airblue started leasing it in January 2006.