Pakistan International Airlines Sacks One Third (150) Of Their Pilots Holding Fake Licenses After Crash Investigation Revelations

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Pakistan International (PIA) announced that the airline has suspended one third of it’s pilots as irregularities were found with their flight licenses which were found to be complete fakes or at least suspicious.

The revelation came after an investigation into the PIA crash in Karachi, Pakistan last month which killed 98 people and that was determined to be pilot error.

An investigation into the pilots records was then expanded to the entire crew pool and revealed widespread irregularities with bogus licenses that couldn’t be validated.

CBS and other media reported that the carrier has suspended at least 150 pilots.

Pakistan International Airlines said Thursday it had grounded almost a third of its pilots for holding fake or dubious licences, a month after one of its planes crashed into houses killing 98 people. The move comes after the government released a preliminary report into the May 22 crash in Karachi.

Investigators largely blamed the two pilots, who ignored flight protocols and had been discussing the coronavirus outbreak when they first attempted to land the Airbus A320.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told AFP that a government probe last year had found about 150 of its 434 pilots were carrying “either bogus or suspicious licences”.

We have decided to ground those 150 pilots with bogus licences with immediate effect,” he said.

Details of the government probe were made public Wednesday when Pakistan’s aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told parliament the review found more than 260 of the country’s 860 active pilots had fake licenses or had cheated on exams.

State-owned PIA said it has requested additional details from the Civil Aviation Authority so “further action may be taken against those who have become severe potential hazards.”

PIA, Pakistan’s flag carrier, currently has a fleet of 31 planes and employs around 14,500 staff.

Last month’s crash saw the plane come down in a crowded residential area near Karachi airport, killing 97 people on board and a child on the ground.

The preliminary report outlined the flight’s chaotic final minutes and a bizarre series of errors compounded by communication failures with air traffic control. …

Needless to say this is a very serious issue and it surprised me that these faux pilots managed to pass their simulator trainings assuming those carrying out the checks have done so appropriately.

This reminds me on a similar problem that was exposed in India back in 2011 and even as recent as a few days ago there was another article in The Times of India discussing an ongoing problem with their pilot verification system.

Conclusion

It’s deeply troubling that even the national airlines are unable or unwilling to properly vet the pilots. Usually when flying with a nations most popular airline or flag carrier there is a certain amount of trust one associates with that but apparently it’s just smoke and mirrors.

It’s one thing to operate an aircraft like a computer game and I’m sure at some point the entire thing becomes routine but as soon as things start to go wrong that’s when the real training expertise is required. Pilots are usually tested for these stress situations in the simulator so would it be possible for a “fake” untrained pilot to pass these tests unless someone just waved them through?

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