- The Pakistani pilots whose licenses have been validated work in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
- The reputation of the aviation authority, as well as that of the pilots, has been at stake since last month.
- Investigations into allegations that some of the pilots did not personally sit for their examinations is currently ongoing.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has validated licenses of pilots working abroad. According to its spokesperson, Abdul Sattar Khokar, the licenses of 166 have been validated as being genuine and certified. He added that the verification of 10 remaining pilots will be concluded by next week.
The Pakistani pilots whose licenses have been validated work in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Qatar, Kuwait, Vietnam, Oman and Malaysia. The reputation of the aviation authority, as well as that of the pilots, has been at stake since last month.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) grounded 150 pilots after questions over the authenticity of their licenses emerged. Investigations into allegations that some of the pilots did not personally sit for their examinations, but rather paid others to take the exams, are currently ongoing.
“It will totally cripple us,” said PIA’s spokesperson, Abdullah Hafeez. “But we cannot take risks with this.” He told The Associated Press, “we will make it sure that such unqualified pilots never fly aircraft again.”
The minister of Pakistan Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, had on Wednesday said that 262 of the country’s active licensed pilots have suspect licenses. The minister made the revelation when presenting the findings into the May 22 plane crash to parliament.
Due to the revelation, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended its authorization for PIA to fly to Europe for the next six months, beginning July 1. It is the latest fallout over the fake pilots’ licenses scandal. EASA said it has lost confidence in the airline.
EASA said the suspension was “due to concerns about the capability of competent authorities to ensure that Pakistani air operators are in compliance with applicable international standards at all times.” Aviation Minister Khan said that reforms aimed at reshaping PIA will be completed by end of the year. Khan added that the reforms were unavoidable.
The suspension came just a day after an initial investigation into last month’s plane crash that claimed 98 lives in the southern part of the country. Human error was found to be responsible for the crash.
Minister Khan said that when making the first landing attempt, the pilot did not pay attention to the warning from the control tower that said that the plane was too high to land. The plane crashed on its second attempt to land, and the pilot had also been warned a number of times that the plane was too low to land, but he did not heed to the warnings.
The investigators found out that the air control failed to warn the pilots about the damage caused by their first attempted landing. “The engines of the plane were damaged when they scraped the runaway but the air traffic control did not inform the pilot,” Khan said.
The PIA Airbus crashed into a residential neighborhood about 1.4 kilometers from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. Ninety-seven people out of the 99 on board were killed. A child in one of the houses that were destroyed also died. PIA, a state owned airline is one of the largest air carriers in Pakistan.
In January, 2017, 17 pilots were suspended over the same allegations after a plane crashed in Panjgur, southwestern part of the country. The plane had 43 passengers on board when it veered off the runaway after the pilot used an unsafe approach. However, there were no injuries in the incident.