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Friday Jun 26 2020
Web Desk

Fake licences of Pakistani pilots most extraordinary story in aviation: CNN

Web Desk
CNN journalist Richard Quest says that the fact that a country is admitting that there are dubious pilot licenses in the commercial airline sector "beggars belief". — Still from CNN video

CNN journalist Richard Quest on Friday said that a third of Pakistani pilots having fake licenses was the most “extraordinary” story in aviation, after federal minister Ghulam Sarwar disclosed details about pilots possessing "dubious" credentials.

“It is not prevalent elsewhere. This is the most extraordinary story in aviation. Dubious licenses. 'Fake' licenses — how the investigators put it in the Pakistan aircraft investigation,” he said.

In PIA, perhaps a third of its pilots did not have the correct licensing, he said.

Clarifying the fact that the pilots flying the recently crashed aircraft of flight PK-8303, did have licenses, he said: “There was a raft of other incompetent issues in the way they were flying the plane.”

He said that the fact that a country is admitting that there are dubious pilot licenses in the commercial airline sector "beggars belief", adding that it raises "some serious questions" about the safety of airline operations in Pakistan.

Speaking of elsewhere in the world, he said: "We have had isolated cases where pilots have been flying for decades on forged and outdated [documents], but they always turn out to be very good pilots who just didn’t have the right paperwork. This is not that case, this is a case of wholesale fraud."

“People flying that shouldn’t have been flying — it’s a scandal,” he added.

Meanwhile, PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said that the government had put the entire aviation industry at stake “to hide their incompetence in one aircraft incident”.

“Today, the entire aviation industry is being ridiculed throughout the world.”

262 pilots have 'dubious' credentials

Aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced today that the credentials of 262 pilots in the country are "dubious" and thus they will be barred from flying.

The pilots in the line of fire include 141 from Pakistan International Airlines, nine from Air Blue and 10 from Serene Airline, said the minister.

The rest of the 262 belong to flying clubs or chartered plane services, he said. He said all the airlines and the clubs had been conveyed that: “Their credentials are dubious, and they shouldn’t be allowed to fly.”

'Serious lapse'

A day earlier, it was revealed by PIA that around 150 of its 434 pilots have "dubious" licenses. The national carrier made the discovery while conducting a probe into one of its aircrafts that had crashed last month, killing 98 on board.

Reacting to the development, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the irregularities found represent a “serious lapse” in safety controls.

“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.