Wednesday, 15 July, 2020

European Union bans Pakistan national airline flights over pilot exam cheats

PIA halts operation to Europe after EU’s ban on its flights for 6 months Pakistan grounds 262 pilots over dodgy license concerns
Deanna Wagner | 30 June, 2020, 20:25

On the same day, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam announced it has suspended 20 Pakistani pilots and is now waiting for the review result from Pakistani authorities related to the pilots using fake licenses.

Hafeez told the Associated Press in a phone interview today that PIA had alerted the Civil Aviation Authority, the Pakistani regulatory body that issues pilots licences, about its concerns over some of the licenses. "Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited is required to pay a fee when lodging the appeal", it added.

He also pinpointed that the Civil Aviation Authority didn't issue show-cause notices to any pilot so far.

The official said the authorities intend to pursue their criminal responsibility.

Pakistan's national airline has written to foreign missions and global regulatory and safety bodies, assuring them it has grounded all 141 pilots suspected of obtaining licenses through unfair means, the carrier's spokesman said on Saturday.

Khan did not clarify if the two pilots on flight PK 8303 held fake licenses.

The reports say many officials turned a blind eye to such wrongdoings.

The Express Tribune, quoting sources reported on Sunday that Kuwait Air has grounded seven Pakistani pilots and 56 engineers, while Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Vietnam Airlines have compiled lists of Pakistani pilots, engineers and ground-handling staff.

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An inquiry into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash that killed 97 people at the southern port city of Karachi resulted in the stunning revelation that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated on their pilots exams, but were still given licences by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Out of total 262 pilots, 141 are from PIA, nine pilots are from Airblue and the remaining 10 are presently serving in Serene Airline.

The EASA, in a letter to PIA seen by Newsweek, said it had chose to suspend PIA's operations both because the airline had failed to implement all elements of a safety management system and due to the concerns raised by the aviation minister.

A government investigation into the authenticity of the pilots' licences continues, pending which all pilots have been suspended from flying for Pakistani domestic airlines.

In presenting preliminary findings of the probe into the crash to parliament, Khan said the pilot, before making his first failed landing attempt, did not pay attention to warnings from the air control tower when he was told the plane was too high to land. It only said the two pilots were medically fit and experienced, while investigators say human error was behind the crash.

The scandal would "prove the last nail in the coffin of PIA", said Ijaz Haroon, who was managing director at the airline until he resigned in 2011 amid a union protest.

The rest of the 262 belong to flying clubs or chartered plane services, he said.

He said that the pilots under investigation were inducted before 2018. He said the validity of the licenses and degrees of the pilot and co-plot who were flying the doomed flight PK-8303 were beyond any doubt.