EASA asks 32 member countries not to schedule pilots holding ‘fake’ licences

Updated 08 Jul 2020

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CAA suspends commercial flying licences of 34 PIA pilots. — Creative Commons/File
CAA suspends commercial flying licences of 34 PIA pilots. — Creative Commons/File

RAWALPINDI: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Monday wrote a letter to its 32 member countries regarding alleged “fraud related to pilot licences issued in Pakistan” and recommended not to “schedule such pilots” for flight operations.

The EASA said: “You may be aware of the information available in the public domain indicating that a sizable portion (approximately 40%) of airline pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) are either falsified and or otherwise not ICAO compliant.”

The letter added: “It is a grave concern. As operators could fly to Europe, under a TCO authorisation issued by EASA with pilots holding validated Pakistani licences, we would like to share with you the measures taken by EASA in relation to alleged irregularities on pilot licences issued by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).”

The EASA recommended to aviation authorities of the 32 member states to consider the suspension of validations issued against Pakistani licences and notified the recommendation of PCAA.

CAA suspends commercial flying licences of 34 PIA pilots

“Should your organisation currently employ pilots holding valid Pakistani licences, we would appreciate it if you could share with us any measures taken or planned in this regard be informed to the EASA,” the agency said in the letter to its member countries.

The agency’s air operations oversight section recommended to its 32 member countries “not to schedule such pilots for operations performed under your Third Country Operators (TCO) authorisation”.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Tuesday suspended commercial flying licences of 34 PIA pilots after inquiries against them were completed regarding ‘dubious’ licences.

A letter issued by the CAA additional director licensing informed the PIA’s director flight operations and others concerned that the commercial pilot licences of 34 pilots, including a female pilot, had been suspended.

The credibility of the CAA and PIA has been on stake after the International Air Transport Association expressed concern over the “serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”.

Amid the crisis, the PIA management grounded its 150 (one-third of its) pilots and started relieving them from flight rosters for allegedly possessing ‘dubious licences’, while asking the CAA to urgently provide the list of all those PIA pilots who allegedly had fake/suspicious commercial pilot licences.

The controversy drew world attention after federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said in the National Assembly that 150 pilots of the national flag carrier had fake licences.

The aviation minister had also revealed that show-cause notices had been served on 30 pilots and they would also be suspended after completion of an inquiry while their dismissal will be decided by the federal cabinet.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2020