–Regulator tells court licences of 54 pilots with dubious credentials being re-verified
ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Saturday informed the Supreme Court that it had sought the assistance of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for the biometric verification of pilots appearing for its exams so that cheating could be prevented.
In its report submitted to the court, the aviation regulator also stated that it would install CCTV cameras and other technology to upgrade its examination process.
On June 25, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had taken notice of the government’s revelation that 262 pilots in the country with dubious credentials were being grounded and sought a report from the CAA, which issues licences to pilots.
The authority told the court that the licences of 54 pilots, who were issued show-cause notices for their dubious credentials after an inquiry, were being re-verified.
The CAA further informed the court that it had issued 1,934 licences to pilots working in different airlines, including 450 in the PIA.
The board of inquiry has identified the 262 pilots with suspicious credentials including 141 of the PIA, 10 of Serene Air and nine of Air Blue and they have been grounded.
A summary for revoking the licences of 28 pilots has been sent to the federal government. Suspension orders have been issued for 34 of the 208 pilots with suspicious licences.
The authority also told the court that eight of 16 pilots with fake educational credentials had also been suspended.
Six of them were working with PIA and two with Shaheen Air.
The CAA maintained that these pilots had submitted fake FA and O level certificates to the authority.
Earlier this week, the federal cabinet had approved the dismissal of 28 commercial pilots whose licences were found to be dubious.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar had said last month that nine of the 54 pilots being investigated for suspicious licences had “confessed” and they would be sacked after approval from the federal cabinet. He also announced that 262 pilots would be barred from flying because their credentials were “dubious”.
Separately, the Aviation Division has cleared 95% licences of Pakistani pilots working with different airlines in seven countries. The process of verification of the remaining ones will be completed next week.
The aviation minister’s revelation has created problems for Pakistani pilots working in other parts of the world.
On June 29, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) also ordered grounding all Pakistani pilots working with local airlines.
“The suspension will be in effect until further notice from CAAV,” it said, adding that the authority was coordinating with Pakistani authorities to review the pilots’ profiles.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate in EU member states for six months expressing concerns over the minister’s statement.
Following the EASA’s move, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports. “PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesperson for the authority told Reuters. The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Later, the United States also imposed a ban on flights of the national flag carrier for six months citing dubious licences.