In pilots we place our trust

By | Category: Travel rumblings

There was a story from Pakistan last week about the suspension of pilots flying on Pakistan International Airways. (PIA)

PIA is banned from flying into Europe until the end of the year. Image – PIA

It appeared that they hadn’t past the exams but others had passed them in their names. Initially I had thought that the story related just to PIA but this isn’t the case.

The Pakistani government has suspended 262 pilots (not all on commercial passenger airlines) whilst it investigates and there, you might think would be an end to the matter.

Not so.

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has now banned PIA from flying into member countries for a period of six months starting today, July 1st.

Kuwait Airways has suspended all pilots that have Pakistani issued licences as has the Vietnamese government. Vietnam has gone one stage further and asked that all foreign licence holders working for Vietnamese airlines are verified.

Turkish Airlines has suspended 16 pilots because one of those pilots appeared on a list issued by the Pakistani government. Are others yet to be located around the world?

The affair has been rumbling on for two years. In the aftermath of a crash, the dodgy licence issue came to light and in 2019, sixteen pilots were suspended. Obviously since then more evidence has come to light and explains the more widespread suspension of pilots with licences issued in Pakistan.

For us mortals who fly on holidays or for business this is a bit worrying. We trust pilots with our lives

How is it that the Pakistani examining board didn’t match applicants’ photographs when applying for licences with avaition school images?

Are pilots who stood in for applicants also being suspended for their behaviour? How many Pakistani issued licences are being used by pilots in other countries around the world?

There is already a long-running enquiry about fake degrees, amongst PIA staff, which has found 648 people with fake degrees that encompasses management staff, cabin crew, engineering which suggests a level of laxity in the company.

But perhaps the most disturbing question is whether the practice is happening in any other country’s licencing system?

The last thing that passengers want to know as they emerge from the pandemic and become more confident about flying is to find out that they are on a flight piloted by someone who cheated in their exams. And to know that regulatory authorities are slipshod in their work to the point where lives could be in danger. .

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