Almost 1 in 3 Active Pilots in Pakistan Have Fake License, Aviation Minister says

According to Pakistan's aviation minister, a third of airline pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses. All of them are grounded now.

Almost 1 in 3 Active Pilots in Pakistan Have Fake License. Photo: Flickr

This revelation came during initial investigation of the crashed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) jet operating flight 8303 in May. The Airbus A320 crashed near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, killing 97 people on-board.

The revelation came alongside an initial report announcing the results of the crash investigation. Pilots of the crashed jet were not ‘focused’ as well as 'overconfident' as they were discussing coronavirus and its impact on their families for at least half an hour before the crash.

Addressing Pakistan's National Assembly, Ghulam Sarwar Khan said around 30% active pilots in the country "did not take the exam themselves" and had paid someone else to sit it on their behalf.

Around 30% Pakistani pilots have no flying experience. Photo: Wikimedia

"They don't have flying experience," Khan said.

Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its domestic airlines along with the country's flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) as well as a number of foreign carriers, the minister said.

However, it was not immediately clear whether the pilots involved in the May crash had legitimate pilot licenses or not.

It is unclear whether PIA flight 8303 had legitimate license. Photo: Wikemedia

Minister Sarwan also said that investigations had found more than 260 of the country's 860 active pilots had either fake licences or had cheated in their exams.

The flag carriers spokesman confirmed that the probe found about 150 of its 434 pilots had "either bogus or suspicious licences".

"PIA acknowledges that fake license is not just a PIA issue but spread across the entire Pakistani airline industry," airline spokesperson told CNN.

PIA has grounded all pilots with fake license. Photo: Wikimedis

"We’ve been told that an investigation conducted by the civil aviation authority has found that about 150 of our pilots have dubious licenses. We have decided to ground those 150 pilots with bogus licences with immediate effect,"
he said.

He concluded saying that some flights may be cancelled as a result of this grounding. Some of the fake pilots also fly for foreign carriers.

In a tweet, the flag carrier also made it clear that this problem does not pertain to it alone. 

Regarding this probe, an  International Air Transport Association (IATA) spokesperson said:

"We are following reports from Pakistan regarding fake pilot licences, which are concerning and represent a serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator."

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also said it was aware of the reports regarding Pakistani pilots. Regarding this an EASA spokeswoman said:

"We are investigating the matter but cannot comment further at this stage"

The investigation was started back in 2018. Photo: Wikimedia

In the investigation started in 2018 following a crash, it was discovered that the test date on the pilot's licence was a public holiday, suggesting that testing could not have taken place on that day.

Another pilot had been out of the country on the date stamped on his flying certificate, Khan said.

The investigation probe formed to investigate the May crash published some initial findings suggesting that the aircraft was fit to fly and that the weather through all stages of the trip was fine. 

The ATC did not inform the pilot about engine. Photo: Getty

“The pilot and the ATC did not follow the procedure. There was no technical fault as the plane was 100 per cent fit to fly,” said Sarwar. He also said that the pilots were not focused because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The minister explained that the aircraft touched the runway thrice without the landing gear, which caused damage to its both engines. 

Pakistan Airbus A320 Crash Black Box Recovered
The pilot later informed that they have lost engines Photo: Getty

He also said that the pilots had ignored the ATC instructions regarding the height at which the aircraft was flying. 

“The pilots and the air traffic controllers (ATC) both did not follow the protocol. The pilot ignored the instructions of the air traffic controllers and the ATC, on the other hand, did not inform the pilot about the engines’ collision.”

Pakistan Airbus A320 Crash Black Box Recovered
A total of 97 people died in the crash. Photo: Getty Images

This latest shocking revelation will definitely have adverse effects on the reputation of the flag carrier that already has a poor safety record.

What do you think of this latest Pakistan Pilots scandal? Feel free to share with us in the comments below: