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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Pakistani airlines to resume flights to US, EU soon as CAA clears ICAO safety audit

The PCAA has started contacting UK CAA and European Commission to convey the resolution of safety concerns by ICAO

By Tariq Abul Hasan
January 05, 2022


ISLAMABAD: In a major achievement, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has cleared a safety audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), paving the way for Pakistani registered airlines to resume flight operations to the US, UK and European Union, it emerged Wednesday.

In September 2020, the ICAO, a United Nations aviation body, had advised Pakistan to carry out prompt corrective action and stop issuing any new pilot licences after it learnt that bogus licenses may have been issued to unscrupulous elements.

The revelation had come following the crash of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft in May 2020, which resulted in the deaths of 97 passengers and crew.

ICAO letter to Pakistan
ICAO letter to Pakistan

Pakistani pilots had faced sanctions after the aviation minister said in the National Assembly that a third of them had dubious or fake licences.

In the wake of the scandal, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had taken serious notice and discontinued TCO (Third Country Operator) Authorisation for Pakistani carriers.

The USA had also downgraded Pakistan to category 2, which means no Pakistan origin aircraft was allowed to enter US territory.

In its January 4 letter to DG CAA Khaqan Murtaza, ICAO’s Deputy Director Denis Guindon wrote that the committee conducted the audit in December 2021 and “determined that the actions taken by Pakistan had successfully resolved SSC (Significant Safety Concern).”

“I wish to refer to the Significant Safety Concern (SSC/PEL-01/09-2020/PAK refers) that was issued to Pakistan on 18 September 2020 as well as the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) audit that was conducted by an ICAO team in Pakistan from 29 November to 10 December 2021."

During the audit, the committee reviewed the corrective actions taken and related evidence presented by Pakistan to address the SSC regarding the licensing system of the State, specifically in relation to the examinations conducted by the CAA and by delegated or designated training organizations prior to the issuance of licences and ratings.

“In accordance with the USOAP SSC process, [...] the ICAO SSC Validation Committee reviewed the actions and relevant evidence validated in Pakistan. The Committee determined that the actions taken by Pakistan had successfully resolved SSC,” the letter stated.

The ICAO official also thanked the aviation authority for assistance during the audit mission and reiterated appreciation for the active commitment of Pakistan towards achieving its safety objectives.

'A historic milestone for Pakistan'

On this achievement, the CAA declared this as a historic milestone for Pakistan and appreciated the efforts of the entire regulatory team behind this success.

After passing the safety audit, the PCAA has started contacting UK CAA and European Commission to convey the resolution of safety concerns by ICAO.

The CAA said that it will be emphasised to permit operations of Pakistani registered airlines to UK and Europe at the earliest possible and hoped that permissions will be issued on a fast track basis.