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PIA fleet

January 08, 2013

THIS is regarding your special report on PIA (Dawn Magazine, Dec 23). I would like to comment on the age of PIA’s fleet. PIA never had the luxury of an all-new fleet. It always had a mix of new and old aircraft but they were very well-maintained. At present PIA has a relatively new fleet, and modern sophisticated equipment to support it.

In the 1960s there was no ground support equipment to speak of. Innovation and improvisation was the order of the day. We were driven by a burning desire to excel. Shortages and lack of facilities did not pose any hurdles in achieving our goals.

Accountability was unforgiving. I once lost a screwdriver, the cost of which was promptly deducted from my salary. Nowadays employees causing losses of millions are promoted instead being of punished. A casual attitude and business as usual are the hallmarks of present-day employees.

Delays, accidents and lapses in safety were rare. There was a big placard in our hangar which read: “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous but, like the sea, it is terribly unforgiving for any incompetence or negligence”.

We read the sign several times a day and, needless to say, were very thorough in our work. There were three levels of inspection before the equipment was released for flight.

Finally, the article ‘Pilot Error’ pleads that pilots with fake degrees should not have been sacked as their flying experience and training were invaluable.

Suffice it to say that pilots are the cream of an airline with the lives of hundreds of passengers in their hands. Honesty and integrity are far more important than mere flying skills. Any monument built without a solid foundation is destined to crumble sooner than later. In these days of terrorism a dishonest pilot can be lured by unscrupulous elements to ditch an aircraft full of passengers in exchange for a sizable reward.

ASIF JAH Former Manager Engineering PIA Karachi