Nearly 262 pilots with dubious licenses to be grounded: Ghulam Sarwar

Cheryl Sanders
June 29, 2020

According to a government review past year, details of which were revealed on Thursday, 262 of Pakistan's 860 active pilots hold fake licenses or cheated on exams.

The Pakistani pilots' union did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment. It has been chose to keep the employees named in the list temporarily grounded till the report of the Pakistani authorities is received.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) this week said it would immediately ground 141 of its 434 pilots after a Pakistani government review found them to have obtained "bogus" credentials or cheated on exams by having someone else take them.

Vietnam's aviation authority said on Monday it had grounded all Pakistani pilots working for local airlines, amid concern from global regulators that some pilots may have been using "dubious" licences.

The scandal comes in the wake of a crash in Karachi last month that killed 98 people - and which the authorities have blamed on the two pilots who had been found to have failed to follow standard procedures and disregarded alarms. Malik had also informed the aviation ministry about the flight safety measures.

"It is also ensured that pilots flying PIA flights have genuine licenses endorsed by the Government of Pakistan and are in physical possession of the same during all domestic and global flights", PIA CEO Malik was quoted to have emphasised.

The letter promised that the airline would remain compliant with all worldwide aviation safety and regulatory standards. The companies they worked for included Pakistan International Airlines, which operated the aircraft in the accident.

Senior office bearers of Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA), including its spokesperson Capt Qasim Qadir, was stated to be among them, along with Capt Yahya Sandhila, responsible for an incident that led to disclosure of the issue itself.

Chaudhry Salman, head of the Pakistan Airline Pilots' Association, told a news conference in Karachi that claims by aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan were false.

Malik informed the global community that 141 suspected pilots were grounded and PIA was following worldwide protocols to ensure safety, according to the official.

Pakistani pilots are extremely distressed, he said.

Three PIA pilots who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity outlined a series of issues, including pilots being forced to work lengthy shifts of up to 24 hours. He only said that they did not take examinations themselves to get the required certificates, which are issued by the civil aviation authority.

Speaking about the pilots, the aviation minister had said, "Pakistan has 860 active pilots, which includes PIA, Serene Air, Air Blue".

The aviation minister also said that at least five top civil aviation officials had been suspended, and prosecutions were being considered against them and their aides. "Let me assure that the inquiries will be free and fair", the minister said.

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