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Fokker fleet under scrutiny

July 11, 2006

KARACHI, July 10: The aircraft crash that left 45 people dead on Monday has brought the national airline’s ageing fleet of Fokker aircraft under renewed scrutiny and opened debate on human-resources issues of the aviation sector.

A spokesman for the Pakistan International Airline said the F-27 fleet, now comprising six aircraft, was due to be replaced by ATR-42 aircraft being purchased from France.

He added that one ATR-42 had already been delivered and two others were scheduled to arrive by the end of the year.

“The remaining four ATRs will join the fleet by May 2007,” he said.

Aviation experts say PIA’s Fokker fleet had already flown far too many hours than what was supposed to be safe.

Sources in the national airline blame a shortage of technical staff for the fleet’s poor maintenance.

“At least 30 senior engineers have left PIA since January this year for better jobs,” they said.

An aviation engineer told Dawn that a number of senior aircraft technicians had recently left PIA for a Gulf-based airline.

“The PIA engineering depart-ment’s current chief is a retired air force official who does not have any experience of commercial airliners,” he said.