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June 26, 2020

Pak pilot licence irregularities are ‘serious lapse’: IATA

Top Story

June 26, 2020

PARIS: Irregularities found in pilot licences at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) represent a “serious lapse” in safety controls, global airlines body IATA said on Thursday after the carrier grounded one third of its pilots.

“We are following reports from Pakistan regarding fake pilot licences, which are concerning and represent a serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator,” an IATA spokesman said, adding that the organisation was seeking more information.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has found that some 150 of PIA’s 434 pilots have “dubious licences”, the airline said. An inquiry into a PIA crash that killed 97 people last month has pointed to pilots not following procedures. -- Agencies

Earlier, PIA said it had grounded 150 pilots with "dubious licences", a day after the preliminary report of the Karachi plane crash blamed the pilots and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) for the incident.

A spokesperson for the national carrier said those pilots who get their licences verified will be allowed back on duty. “Grounding so many pilots will affect the PIA flight operation,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that they have already dismissed six pilots with fake degrees. “We have asked the Civil Aviation Authority to send the list of the remaining licences,” the spokesperson said. “We acknowledge the report and are working on making our standard better.”

In a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the PIA chairman requested the aviation authority for details of the remaining pilots with dubious and fake commercial licences.

“Action will be taken against all those pilots with fake licences,” the PIA chairman said, adding that they will take all the necessary steps to make the commercial operation safe. The PIA currently has a fleet of 31 planes and employs around 14,500 staff.

International media also widely reported grounding of PIA pilots. PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan told Al Jazeera: "Out of our 434 pilots, 150 will be grounded as of today."

"It will totally cripple us. But we cannot take risks with this." He said any pilots found to have lied about their credentials "will be terminated". German media outlet Deutsche Welle gave this headline: ‘Pakistan's top airline PIA to ground some 150 pilots over 'dubious' licenses’

CNN said: ‘Almost 1 in 3 pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses, aviation minister says’ UK’s top newspaper Guardian also reported the event.

Telegraph said: ‘Pakistan national airline grounds third of pilots over 'dubious' licences’. Washington Post headline said: ‘Pakistan to ground 150 pilots for cheating to get licenses’.