Yesterday I wrote about how Pakistan’s Minister for Aviation shared preliminary findings of last month’s Pakistan International Airlines crash, which killed nearly 100 people.
In this post I wanted to address what’s perhaps the most shocking part of this story, which I only mentioned in passing in yesterday’s story.
Nearly a third of Pakistani pilots have fake licenses
Yesterday Pakistan’s Minister for Aviation revealed that 262 of 860 pilots in Pakistan have “fake” licenses. Yep, that means about 30% of pilots in Pakistan shouldn’t actually be flying.
What exactly does it mean to have a “fake” license? Well, it’s believed that these pilots didn’t pass exams themselves, but rather paid someone else to take an exam for them. As the Minister explains, “they don’t have flying experience.”
As he describes it, “pilots were also appointed on political basis, unfortunately merit was ignored while appointing pilots.”
While this was revealed during the presentation of the findings of the crash of PK8303, it hasn’t been revealed whether either of the pilots in question had fake licenses.
PIA is grounding 150 pilots
Pakistan International Airlines is the largest airline in Pakistan, though not the only one (there’s also Serene Air and Air Blue). It has been revealed that 150 pilots at PIA are believed to hold fake credentials.
The airline has acknowledged this, and has made the following statement:
“PIA acknowledges the AAIB report and have already taken measures learning from it. An independent Flight Data Monitoring setup established to monitor & analyze all flights. All pilots with dubious licenses will be grounded. Safety is more imp. than any commercial interest”
PIA acknowledges the AAIB report and have already taken measures learning from it. An independent Flight Data Monitoring setup established to monitor & analyze all flights. All pilots with dubious licenses will be grounded. Safety is more imp. than any commercial interest
— PIA (@Official_PIA) June 24, 2020
It’s kind of hard to come to terms with this:
- The airline has in the past fired a few pilots for having fake degrees, long before this current situation; I can’t imagine this comes as a surprise
- While it’s perhaps true that “safety is more important than any commercial interest” (because commercial interests aren’t important — the airline loses a boatload of money), I don’t think anyone can argue that safety has been prioritized over political connections at this airline
- We’ve in the past seen isolated incidents where one or two pilots at an airline were found to have fake credentials, but to see this problem on such a widespread basis is shocking
This raises a simple question — if Pakistan can’t be trusted to oversee the pilot certification process, why aren’t virtually all countries banning airlines from Pakistan? The European Union bans all kinds of airlines over safety concerns, and I don’t see how PIA and others shouldn’t be on the list.
About 30% of pilots in Pakistan lack the qualifications to be pilots. Among those, about 150 PIA pilots have been grounded as an investigation is being done.
PIA has long been a mess of an airline, but this goes way beyond that. This should really lead to more countries banning flights from PIA, until the national airline gets its situation under control.