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CAA bends rules to appoint ‘influential’ person

July 01, 2013
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777 aircraft takes off from Karachi airport on November 11, 2010. — Photo by AFP
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777 aircraft takes off from Karachi airport on November 11, 2010. — Photo by AFP

KARACHI, June 30: Compromising the air safety rules, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has lowered qualifications for selection of flight inspectors so that an ‘influential’ person could qualify and be hired for a plump salary of over Rs450,000 per month, it emerged on Sunday.

According to sources, when even after lowering the qualification/ requirement of ‘in command flying hours’, the ‘well-connected’ retired air force official, who had later joined the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) after retirement from the PAF, could not qualify, he has been inducted anyway as he is the batch mate of the CAA director-general, retired Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry.

The sources said the most important required qualification, among other things, under the CAA rules for the post of a flight inspector was that the person should have the experience of flying an aircraft as the ‘pilot in command’ for at least 5,000 hours. But just to accommodate the blue-eyed boy, the CAA in its advertisement for the post of flight inspector, as printed in the newspapers, the experience required mentioned as at least 3,000 hours – some 2,000 hours less than what is prescribed in the CAA laws.The CAA’s manual for the flight inspectors on the issue says: “1.3.3 Qualifications of a flight inspector: A flight operations inspector should have extensive operational experience, not less than 5,000 hours as pilot in command / flight engineer of air transport civil or military aircraft.”

The sources said that despite lowering the qualification of 5,000 hours to 3,000 hours, retired Capt Arif Majeed, son of Abdul Majeed, failed to fulfill the criteria because he had less than 2,000 in command flying hours' experience. But the CAA selected him.

The sources said Arif Majeed was a batch mate of the CAA chief in the Air Force. A few months ago, they said, Mr Chaudhry had brought in his friend Mr Majeed, who was serving in the PIA as a pilot, on deputation to the CAA as a flight inspector, just a few weeks before he was due to reach the age of superannuation and retire from the PIA. The step was in violation of government rules governing deputations which require that an officer going on deputation must have at least three years’ service left before the retirement. They said that during his service in the CAA for a few weeks, during which he had not yet even fully completed the flight inspector’s mandatory training, he was made director of flight standards directorate with many more qualified and senior flight inspectors serving under him.

Finally, when he retired after serving a few weeks in the CAA, he did not leave the office and continued to work and issued orders.

However, as a precautionary measure, he wrote the orders in pencil, without dates and on small adhesive chits.

It was only after the media approached the CAA for its version and highlighted the issue that Mr Majeed stopped coming to the office of the CAA’s director flight standards and the CAA posted another person, Abid Hassan, acting director, who is also not qualified and has less than 5,000 in command flying hours experience. The sources said that now after a couple of months, Mr Majeed had once again been inducted on a contract of two years (extendable) as a flight inspector, though he is still not qualified for the job.

Responding to Dawn queries, Arif Majeed confirmed that he had been hired by the CAA as a flight inspector on a two-year contract. He insisted that he had sufficient qualifications to be a flight inspector as he had earlier served on even a higher position of the director of flight standard. Asked if he had 5,000 hours or even 3,000 in command flying hours experience, he said he did not remember it.

Dawn repeatedly approached CAA spokesperson Abid Kaimkhani and even sent him the questions in writing through email regarding what was the CAA’s requirement / qualification in relation to the in command flying hours for a flight inspector and why the requirement of 5,000 hours as mentioned in the CAA rules had been lowered to 3,000 hours in the advertisement, and what actually was the in command flying experience (how many hours) of Arif Majeed. Mr Kaimkhani said he would respond as soon as he got the answers from the department concerned, but he never did, even after a passage of a few weeks.

Earlier, responding to the Dawn queries, CAA chief Khalid Chaudhry had confirmed that he and Arif Majeed had served in the PAF for many years together. He also did not remember as to how many hours’ in command flying experience did Mr Majeed had, but he insisted that Mr Majeed met the qualifications as prescribed by the CAA.