In letter to PM Imran, international pilots body offers assistance in PIA crash probe

PIA's problems "can only be addressed effectively [...] with the participation of independent international bodies"

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Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of the crashed PIA aircraft, on May 22, 2020. — AFP/Files

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Association (IFALPA) has called Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan's statement about pilots holding "fake" licenses “on the brink of being reckless” and has offered to assist Pakistan in the ongoing investigation of the crash of Pakistan International Airlines flight PK 8303.

IFALPA was referring to the statement by the minister of aviation in the parliament, where he stated that around 30% of the pilots in Pakistan have obtained licenses to fly through dubious means.

In a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, dated July 7, a copy of which is available with, the Canada-based organisation has proposed providing its expertise to help probe the crash in May that killed 97 of 99 people on board.

“The international pilot community is deeply concerned about the unfounded statements made by the Pakistani Minister for Aviation declaring that many Pakistani commercial pilots hold licenses that, in his words, are ‘fake’,” reads the letter. “We find these statements on the brink of being reckless not just for the individuals named, but for Pakistan and its ability to continue operating international air services.”

“We are not here to blame but to provide our expertise to find the truth,” wrote Captain Jack Netskar, president of IFALPA.

"Any of these problems, perceived or real, need to be immediately dealt with for the sake of aviation safety; an interest we all keenly share," Netskar said.

In the letter, the organisation also offered to be part of any task force that is created to deal with the licensing scandal.

"With respect, we strongly believe that those problems can only be addressed effectively at this point with the participation of independent international bodies such as IFALPA, IATA and ICAO.

“It is our desire to see PIA return to its historical place as an aviation leader in the region. We want this for the people of Pakistan, the employees of PIA and our PALPA colleagues," IFALPA said, in the letter.

IFALPA represents more than 140,000 professional pilots around the world in nearly 100 countries. The Pakistani Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) is also a member of IFALPA.