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Thursday Jun 25 2020
Web Desk

PIA grounds 150 pilots for possessing 'dubious licenses'

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Thursday said it had grounded 150 pilots with "dubious licenses", 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 licenses verified will be allowed back on duty. “Grounding so many pilots will affect the PIA flight operation,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added they have already dismissed six pilots with fake degrees.

“We have asked the Civil Aviation Authority to send the list of the remaining licenses,” the spokesperson said. “We acknowledge the report and are working on making our standard better.” 

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

“Action will be taken against all those pilots with fake licenses,” PIA chairman said, adding they will take all the necessary steps to make the commercial operation safe.

Earlier, PIA 'acknowledged' the preliminary report of the Karachi plane crash that left 97 people dead, saying that it would ground all pilots with "dubious licenses".

"PIA acknowledges the AAIB report and have already taken measures learning from it. An independent Flight Data Monitoring setup established to monitor and analyse all flights. All pilots with dubious licenses will be grounded. Safety is more important than any commercial interest," tweeted the national flag bearer on Wednesday.

The announcement from the airline came a few hours after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan presented the Karachi plane crash preliminary report in the Parliament. 

The report held the pilots and the ATC responsible for the incident, stating that the cockpit crew did not seem focused on the job and were thinking about the coronavirus instead. 

Read morePreliminary report holds pilots, ATC responsible for PIA plane crash

Sarwar had revealed that it was observed that the pilot took the call from the ATC “very hurriedly” and told the tower that he would “manage”, after being informed that the aircraft was at a dangerous height. He added that recorder showed that even after taking the call, the pilots went back to their conversations about coronavirus.

'Almost 40% PIA pilots have fake licenses'

After speaking at length about how the tragedy had unfolded, the minister had shed light on the dismal situation of the airline about its pilots, saying that 40% of them were flying aircraft with fake licenses.

“Pakistan has 860 active pilots, which includes PIA, Serene Air, Air Blue. The inquiry which was initiated in February 2019 showed that 262 pilots did not give the exam themselves and asked someone else to give it on their behalf,” the minister said, adding that the pilots did not have the proper flying experience either.

"Pilots are also appointed on political basis, unfortunately," he said. "Whilst appointing pilots, merit is ignored," he added, disclosing that in another instance, degrees of four PIA pilots had been found to be fake.

Sarwar said that the government will take action against pilots who were found guilty of the above offenses. He said that the PIA will be 'restructured' and it will be taken back to its days of glory.