All licences issued to pilots are genuine: CAA

Published July 16, 2020
Regulator’s confirmation contradicts aviation minister’s claim about ‘fake licences’; Palpa terms development an endorsement. — Reuters/File
Regulator’s confirmation contradicts aviation minister’s claim about ‘fake licences’; Palpa terms development an endorsement. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: In what appears to be a direct contradiction to the aviation minister’s allegation that almost 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots possessed ‘fake licences’, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said that all commercial/airline transport pilots licences (CPL/ATPL) it issued “are genuine and validly issued”.

“It is important to clarify that all CPL/ATPL pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority are genuine and validly issued. None of the pilot licences are fake, rather the matter has been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media/social media,” wrote CAA Director General Hassan Nasir Jamy in a letter dated July 13 to a high-ranking aviation official of Oman.

The letter, a copy of which is provided to Dawn, was addressed to Mubarak Saleh Al Gheilani, the acting DG of Civil Aviation Regulation, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, in response to his July 2 letter and July 9 email with regard to safety concerns over licences of Pakistani pilots working with his country’s airline.

Mr Jamy, who is also the secretary of aviation division, told the Omani official that the CAA had already verified/cleared “96 Pakistani pilots out of 104 names received from various civil aviation authorities/foreign airlines (UAE/GACA, Vietnam Airlines, Bahrain Air, Civil Aviation Malaysia, Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and Turkish Airlines)”.

Regulator’s confirmation contradicts aviation minister’s claim about ‘fake licences’; Palpa terms development an endorsement of its stance

Last month, while furnishing before the National Assembly a preliminary report on the May 22 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in Karachi, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had claimed that 40 per cent of the country’s pilots held “fake licences”.

He later 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.

The CAA suspended the licences of only 34 pilots of the PIA and issued them a show-cause notice to explain as to how they performed flying duty and appeared in a written exam on a same date.

However, Mr Jamy tried to downplay the damning statement of the aviation minister when he stated in his letter that “some concerns” were raised about the validity of the licences of “some pilots”. “The federal government immediately took notice and embarked upon the process of verifying the credentials of all licensed pilots through a forensic scrutiny,” he stated.

“During this process, it occurred that there were discrepancies pertaining to the computer-based examination, which is one of the steps in the licensing process. Immediately upon completion of the process, the pilots falling in this category were treated as ‘suspects’ till clearance. They were taken off from flying duties, if any, and were grounded pending formal process, after providing them opportunity to explain their position,” he explained.

“Pakistan has always maintained a strong regulatory oversight mechanism for safety of skies all over. It has been ensured that only those pilots and aircrew with valid qualification, credentials and unblemished record shall be allowed to fly. I hope this letter is convincing evidence of Pakistan’s continued commitment towards aviation safety. It is highlighted that as a responsible regulator we have voluntarily raised the subject matter,” Mr Jamy added.

A CAA official said that several similar letters were written to civil aviation authorities and airlines of different countries to control the damage the aviation minister’s statement had caused.

Palpa stance vindicated

The Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) said on Wednesday that the CAA’s letter in which it admitted that the ATPL licence of any pilot in Pakistan was neither dubious nor fake was an endorsement of their stance.

“The whole episode has caused damage to the reputation of the nation, its airline and its pilots worldwide,” Palpa secretary Imran Narejo said in a statement.

He said the issue of licences had been mishandled by the aviation minister, PIA management and CAA, which proved very damaging for the pilots of the national airline as well as others working at the international level.

The issue of ‘fake’ licences drew world attention after the aviation minister’s statement last month and the European Union Air Safety Agency suspended PIA authorisation to operate to the EU member states for six months, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also shared its concern over the serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator.

The US Department of Transportation had also revoked permission for the PIA to conduct charter flights to the United States.

According to Reuters, the US Federal Aviation Administration also downgraded Pakistan’s air safety rating after the agency raised concerns about pilot certifications.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Course correction
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

Course correction

PTI should not abandon its power and responsibility while expecting an external stakeholder to set things right.
The plot thickens
24 Feb, 2024

The plot thickens

THE recent explosive allegations by Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, have thrust the...
Trigger-happy police
24 Feb, 2024

Trigger-happy police

ARE the citizens of Karachi becoming fair game again? There were some grisly signs of a rapid return to living...
What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...