RAWALPINDI: Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has announced that the federal cabinet will decide the fate of 28 commercial pilots whose licences have been ‘proven dubious’ after an inquiry, adding that nine of them have already confessed. He said ‘criminal proceedings’ would be initiated against them after the cabinet decision.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday, the minister said of the 860 pilots of Pakistani origin, 753 were serving in Pakistan while 107 were working for foreign airlines.

On account of fake degrees, 648 Pakistan International Airlines employees had been dismissed from service since 2006, he said. Among them were 119 cabin crew, 16 cockpit crew, 98 were employees of the engineering department and 415 of general administration, he explained.

The minister said of the 753 commercial pilots who were facing inquiries for holding ‘dubious’ licences, 450 were serving in PIA, 87 in Airblue, 47 in Serene, 68 in ex-Shaheen Airline and remaining 101 with charter/private/flying clubs.

Mr Khan then announced that 262 pilots had been indicted by a board of inquiry for faking their test results, thus they would be barred from flying. All the airlines and clubs had been conveyed about their ‘dubious’ credentials with the advice that they should not be allowed to fly, he added.

• Minister hints at criminal proceedings against 28 pilots • 262 pilots indicted by board of inquiry for faking their results • Two joint directors among five CAA officials suspended

Sharing the charges against the 262 pilots, the aviation minister said 121 pilots were suspected of attempting one paper through proxies, 39 pilots with two suspected bogus papers, 21 with three bogus papers, 15 with four bogus papers, 11 pilots with five bogus papers, 11 others with six bogus papers, 10 pilots with seven such papers and 34 pilots were suspected of attempting eight papers through proxies.

He explained that Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) were the two types of flying licences for which pilots have to clear all eight papers. Of the 262 pilots, he said, 109 have CPL and the remaining 153 have ATPL.

“The lists of pilots of suspicious commercial licences have been sent to all concerned departments, including CEO,” Mr Khan said.

Five CAA officials suspended

The aviation minister also announced suspension of five Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials associated with its licensing branch.

“They had been suspended after an inquiry and the ministry is consulting with its law department over the possibility of referring their cases to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for criminal proceedings against them. I have with me, five letters of suspension for officials of CAA and licensing authority, including, Senior Joint Director Licensing Asif-ul-Haq, Senior Joint Director Licensing Faisal Mansoor Ansari, Senior Superintendent Human Resource Abdul Raees, Assistant Grade-2 Admin, Khalid Javed, and Assistant Grade-2 Admin Syed Adeel Aftab,” the minister said.

He said some officials of the IT department and three to four outsiders were also involved in the scam, who would be facing criminal proceedings. He told the media that all those wrongdoings (dubious licences) had been done during the past one decade.

Mr Khan pledged to restore the glorious past of the national flag carrier when it was considered the best international airline. “The clean-up operation was necessary in the airline. It all happened only due to out-of-merit appointments,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020