KARACHI: A day after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended licences of 34 of the 262 pilots for holding what the aviation division had claimed ‘fake licences’, the national pilots’ body while terming the process illegal said that they were accused of flying and appearing in a written exam on the same day.
“The 34 pilots, who had been given show-cause notices, are not accused of cheating or passing by illegal means but performing flying duty and appearing in exam only on same date,” said a spokesperson for the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (Palpa) on Wednesday. “They [34 pilots] were given show-cause notices without following set procedures as they were suspended first and then issued show-cause notices,” he added.
The issue of pilots allegedly holding fake licences had surfaced last month when Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, while furnishing a preliminary report on the May 22 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in Karachi before the National Assembly, claimed that 40 per cent of the country’s pilots held “fake licences”.
Later, he said that 262 airlines’ pilots had falsified their credentials and of them 141 belonged to the PIA, nine from Air Blue and 10 from Serene Air. The remaining pilots were affiliated with flying clubs, chartered plane services or foreign airlines, he said.
On Tuesday, CAA Additional Director Khalid Mehmood issued a notification suspending the commercial licences of 34 pilots belonging to the PIA.
“Out of the total 262 accused pilots, these 34 pilots are the first to be sent show-cause notices, which itself is illegal and against the procedure,” Palpa said.
Commenting on the CAA’s action, the Palpa spokesperson said the show-cause notices had established the fact that all the 34 pilots at least appeared in written exams and had no issue what the aviation minister stated on the floor of the house.
“Now these 34 pilots have been asked to prove how they did two duties — appearing in written exams and doing flight duty the same day. This is a ridiculous accusation in aviation as the test lasts only a few hours while one can fly the rest of the day, which is absolutely legal,” he said, adding that appearing in exam was not considered a legal duty; hence no rules of CAA were violated.
“We reserve our right to approach the court of law and we will provide all assistance to those members who have been wrongfully accused of cheating without any reason, embarrassing Pakistan and its flying community globally,” Palpa said.
Regarding the aviation minister’s claim that 262 pilots had fake credentials, Palpa said it was waiting for the list of 85 “missing” pilots declared bogus by the aviation minister in the National Assembly along with 141 belonging to the PIA, nine to Air Blue, 10 to Serene Air and 17 belonging to now defunct Shaheen Air.
“The PIA and the CAA have been unable to provide any details on these 85 missing pilots,” the spokesperson said.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020