In the wake of the fake pilots’ license scandal that rocked Pakistan International Airlines last May, the airline has now cleared 110 out of 141 pilots. The scandal came in the wake of the tragic PIA8303 crash.
On the 22nd of May this year, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 made a failed approach, and initiated a go-around. Authorities subsequently determined that the aircraft made a wheels-up landing, touching down on its engine nacelles. This caused a series of mechanical failures. And this led to the engines failing and the plane crashing into an inhabited area of Karachi. 95 people perished in the accident.
The details of the approach and descent that the pilots made, raised some questions. Pakistan International Airlines eventually declared that the two pilots “were adequately qualified and experienced to undertake the said flight”. However, the incident started an extensive investigation in the background of other pilots in the airline. And their findings led to the scandal.
Pakistan’s Authorities Enter The Fray
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority conducted this research, which revealed that 40% of pilots in Pakistan had questionable licenses. Several had licenses that were outright fakes. Others had genuine documents but PCAA had reasons to believe that the pilots didn’t sit the pilot exams themselves. As a result, the airline suspended 150 of its 426 pilots, back in June.
The event had repercussions outside the country. In Europe, EASA added Pakistan International Airlines to the EU no-fly list. They also requested more details on the matter, as several pilots who got licenses in Pakistan were believed to work for other airlines worldwide. Also, the FAA in the United States imposed a similar ban on PIA.
Interestingly, EASA removed PIA from its no-fly list on the 2nd of December. In referring to the previous ban, EASA stated that the authorities in Pakistan made “significant effort to enact the corrective actions needed”. However it adds that there is a need for more transparency in licensing. In addition, if PIA decides to restart flights in the EU, EASA will review the airline’s safety procedures.
Of the 141 pilots that Pakistan International Airlines originally suspended, 110 are now in the clear. The airline cancelled the licenses of 15 pilots and it declared 14 others unfit to fly its aircraft. That leaves 2 pilots, whose cases are pending, according to a PIA spokesperson.