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May 29, 2020

Unforgiving business

Newspost

 
May 29, 2020

Pakistan’s transport industry which must offer citizens safe and reliable transportation within the country’s geographical boundaries and beyond is today no longer safe nor reliable. Other than motorways, with their trained police and strict surveillance, the rest are in a mess, where accidents occur with huge loss of life. Unfortunately, today all our civil airports have been declared as Red for frequent bird hazards that pose a threat to any aircraft especially in critical take-off or approach phases. I shudder to think of the catastrophic loss of human life not just of passengers who pay to travel, but those residing in housing societies that have mushroomed on the periphery of all our civil airports.

Helpless and often conniving individuals, associated with powerful state institutions, watch silently as the land mafia illegally occupies thousands of acres of state and forest land. ICAO regulations recommend that a 15 km sterile zone with height restrictions must exist around every airport. Air accidents occur due to a combination of pilot, technical and environmental irregularities, but if regulatory oversight is also lacking, then this is a recipe for disaster. Only a credible investigation by an independent Investigation committee will hopefully fix responsibility and ensure that such a disaster can be averted. However, given dismal past record and recent accident investigations and cover-ups, this seems unlikely. Rapid technological advances in commercial aviation demands airlines recruit the best available talent in the country with an oversight by an independent regulatory body, free from any institutional or political interference. No other state or private-owned enterprise is subjected to both state and international regulatory oversight like commercial aviation, which is why it is important that those at the helm must be qualified and experienced in dynamics and intricacies of commercial aviation and there should be absolutely no conflicts of interest or outside interference. Commercial airlines must operate strictly to the satisfaction of revenue paying passengers, market forces and ICAO regulations and not just on command and control structure such as exists in military aviation. Commercial aviation is a very unforgiving business.

Malik Tariq Ali

Lahore