Pakistan Seven Zero Three


B747-240 AP-BAT


  • June 25, 1977
  • Sector Orly to John F. Kennedy
  • Aircraft B747-282B
  • Registration AP-AYW
  • Call sign: Pakistan Seven Zero Three.
  • LFPO or ORY is Paris Orly Airport
  • KJFK or JFK is New York’s  John F. Kennedy Airport
  •  Z = GMT/ UTC

This is my second flight with Capt Anwar Khan after completing a DXB-FRA-ORY-FRA-DXB* pattern earlier with him on June 8 and 9, 1977.


I was a raw B747 First Officer, having completed my training earlier that year on March 27 in Denver, Colorado, and the first flight as B747 copilot on April 13. We departed Orly at 2013Z for Kennedy Airport. It was a daylight, afternoon, summer departure with the captain flying the sector and Flight Engineer Hasan Mirza looking after the aircraft systems.

Our oceanic entry is near Cork over Ireland, and after contacting Shanwick Oceanic prior to reaching the entry point, we are given the route clearance over the Atlantic in the form of  “Track-Foxtrot,” part of  the North Atlantic Track System (NATS).

I have to read back the route clearance to the controller-backwards from exit to entry-in the form of coordinates of latitude and longitude which form different reporting points en-route at 15W, 20W, 30W, 40W and 50W to Gander-the other point across the ocean, and our oceanic exit. The track coordinates (lat. and long.) are entered into the triple Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) we carry on board. This system is self contained, and it does not rely on outside aids for navigation. My job is to assist the captain in flying when required or otherwise maintain the flight plan, make position calls en route and keep a fuel score of plus or minus ( how goes it ) as we pass the check points. Besides also to take the weather forecast on the HF Radio for the New York Area and for our alternate airfields on the flight plan in case the weather deteriorates at Kennedy, a laborious process since the channel is common to other stations in the area also. The aircraft flies, navigates, and handles turbulence on the auto-pilot. Our alternate airports are Washington D.C. (Dulles) and Philadelphia.

The flight is routine, it is night over the ocean and we are cruising at Flight Level 330 (thirty three thousand feet above mean sea level) . We are in contact with ‘Gander Oceanic’, and after crossing the mid-point over the ocean, past the 45 degrees west longitude, the fire warning light comes on along with loud ringing of the bell in the cockpit. It is quickly identified as a fire warning in the aft cargo bay in the belly of the aircraft and the bell silenced in a reflex action by me by pushing a button. The Flight Engineer checks his panel and the smoke detectors for any sign of visible information, while the captain in coordination with him and me, goes through the appropriate checklist and the necessary fire extinguishers (two bottles) are discharged. Only the fire warning bell has been earlier silenced by my action; the warning light still stares at us from the glare shield panel and the flight engineer’s panel meaning the fire is not out.

We have taken whatever action is possible and regulations and common sense dictate an immediate landing as soon as possible. Our location is over the ocean, and I contact Gander Oceanic on the HF Radio, who advises us to contact Halifax Radar on VHF as we are in line of sight radio range now.

I quickly advise Halifax Radar of our predicament, and we are immediately cleared to a lower level for descent into Halifax Airport. Halifax Radar bothered us only once to ask if the warning light was still on along with a request for total souls on board and continued giving us the necessary radar heading vectors* (speed and direction*) and descent altitudes for approach to the Instrument Landing Runway there.

The captain asks me to convey to Halifax Radar if the runway can accommodate the 747, and we are told it can. I tune in the frequency for the Instrument Landing System on our navigation receivers for the runway and set the front course direction in degrees for the Localizer, the radio beam which will take us into the runway laterally till we intercept another radio beam for our sloping descent, the Glide Slope. We have to maintain a cross in the centre with these two radio beams on the Flight Director, the attitude instrument in front of both of us on our respective panels ( true Christian, we call it ), and to fly the approach on this instrument mainly into the runway till we are able to see it visually, usually from a 200 feet height above ground for a landing.

flight-director-indicator (1)

Flight Director Indicator (FDI). The Cross has to be maintained with the yellow needles

The FDI is many instruments incorporated in one. When tuned to the instrument landing system receiver (ILS), the vertical yellow needle responds to deviations away from the center line of the runway. The horizontal yellow needle at this time functions in response to the glide slope signal on a 3 degree descent path to the runway. In other words the aircraft is turned in the direction of the deviation to centralize the vertical or horizontal bar. When the aircraft is again on the correct beam, the bank has to be reduced to follow the signal.The black portion is the earth, the blue is the sky which always has to be up.

There is a strong wind blowing at the time we touch down, and with the fire trucks in tow, we taxi back to the ramp. The captain has decided against any evacuation as no fire is visible through contact from outside sources. Later while standing outside the aircraft after shut down, he asks me to check if he has indeed shut down the engines as the jet rotors vanes are noisily windmilling in the blowing wind. Such is the strain on him and all of us. That is how I first arrived in Canada, the time is 0308Z or 2308 EDT.

Boeing 747-282 in the picture,: a true giant of the skies, it revolutionized air travel by carrying more people further, and at a lower cost, than any other aircraft before it. Called the “Jumbo Jet” because of its wide-body capacity, it introduced size and economy to the world’s airline routes..It was also one of the fastest; its four powerful engines drove it to a maximum of almost nine-tenths the speed of sound.

Specifications 747-200 B
Type High capacity commercial transport
Power Plant Four (54, 800 lb-thrust) Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans
Cruising Speed 584 mph at 20, 000 ft
Range 6524, normal payload
Cruising ceiling 45, 000 ft

Empty : 382, 000 lb
MTOGW : 832, 906 lb
Passenger load : 490 seats maximum; typically 394 seats including 24 first class, 70 business-class and 290 standard-class passengers

Span 195’ 8”
Length 231’ 10”
Height 63’ 5”
Wing area 5, 500 sq. ft.

6 thoughts on “Pakistan Seven Zero Three

  1. It was the same captain who took you when you were going for studies to England from Islamabad.Remember you sat in the cockpit for the takeoff and I was the First Officer. I had to tell him to add power and made a motion to go for the power levers on approach to ISB on a flight from DXB during Ramzan. He was fasting and it was sunset time as we approached. We were below glide slope and sinking and he was not reacting.

  2. I have seen the history of PIA and
    Chief flight engineer Hassan Mirza was
    A chief flight engineer With PIA from
    Approx late 1960s upto to
    1980 .. question ??? Is he still alive
    Or passed away … as he was the longest serving chief flight engineer With PIA.
    I had some communication with
    Chief flight engineer matin ghani over
    Some research I was doing his status
    Is still that he is alive and well .

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