Pakistan’s flagbearer airline is under pressure after an investigation revealed that nearly a third of its pilots are carrying fake licenses.
The airliner, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), stated that they immediately suspended 141 of its 434 pilots after a government inquiry discovered that the dubious pilots have fraudulent credentials.
The pilots’ fake licenses came to light as the initial investigation of the Karachi crash last month, which resulted in 98 people’s death, discovered the cause of the aviation disaster to be a human error by the pilots and the air traffic controller.
The Karachi incident inquiry found out that the pilots were talking about the coronavirus pandemic as they were attempting to land the Airbus A320 without putting its wheels down, damaging the engines.
The plane then lost control as it plunged into the houses in the vicinity of the airport as it went around for a second landing.
Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan explained the results of the initial report into the Karachi crash.
According to a state investigation conducted last year, 262 of 860 total pilots of Pakistan either has a fake license or cheated through the pilot examinations. The details of the investigation were only revealed last week.
More than half of the 262 dubious pilots are from the state-run airline.
Pakistan International Airlines was considered as the region’s top airline until the 1970s when its reputation dropped due to management issues.
According to Minister Khan, 28 of the 262 pilots have undergone dismissal proceedings and will likely face criminal charges. He stated:
“People are saying this (revelation) will have a negative impact. But when you try to save a patient, you have to do major surgery, radiation – and even chemo.”
He also stated that PIA would recover from the mishaps that happened to the airline:
“God willing, 2021 will be the year of the betterment of Pakistan’s institutions and, God willing, PIA will become the PIA of good times – the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s”.
However, some people think otherwise. The former Managing Director of PIA, Ijaz Haroon, said:
“The world is not going to trust us anymore. No one would like to fly with pilots who have bogus licenses. (Khan’s) statement has further tarnished the image of the airline.”
Retired Pakistan Air Force Air Vice Marshall Shahzad Chaudry stated that the government shouldn’t single out PIA. Instead, it should also focus on the errors of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA is the pilot license-issuing authority of Pakistan. The former Air Vice Marshall said:
“We not only need a complete overhauling of PIA but CAA as well, as both go hand in hand,”
On Friday, the government said that they had suspended the five CAA authorities involved in the scandal.