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Pakistan Grounds Pilots Over Fake License Scandal

Pakistan aviation minister announced on wednesday that more than 30% of civilian pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses and are not qualified to fly. Pakistan International Airlines(PIA) has so far suspended 150 of its pilots after questions over the authenticity of their licenses emerged.

The announcement came after a PIA plane crash that killed 98 people in southern Pakistan last month in may 2020. The initial investigation found that human error was primarily responsible for the fatal crash. Also previously in 2018 another plane crashed and it was discovered that the test date on the pilots license was a public holiday, suggesting that testing could not have taken place on that day.

PIA has 434 pilots and 150 was grounded as of today. The spokesman for PIA- Abdullah Khan said” It will totally cripple us, but we cannot take risks with this”. The suspicions of the pilots will remain in place until investigations can be carried out to verify the authenticity of the pilots. PIA will primarily look into all allegations that the pilots did not sit for the examinations themselves and sent others instead.

Pakistan’s aviation authorities have been probing allegations of PIA pilots fake qualifications since 2018, but not much is known about it. The spokesman Abdullah Khan said “PIA acknowledges that fake licenses is not just a PIA issue but spread across the entire pakistan airline industry”. He also added that some of the fake pilots also fly foreign carriers. Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its domestic airlines- including PIA flagship, as well as a number of foreign carriers.

On wednesday the aviation minister, Ghulam Khan announced that 262 Pakistan pilots had faked exams to get their pilot licenses by getting others to sit for their exams and through other abuses of licensing process. The names of these pilots were not released, leaving confusion in the industry. PIA wrote to Pakistan’s aviation regulator asking for the official confirmation of the identities of these pilots.

The supreme court has called the heads of the PIA, Air Blue and Serene Air, as well as civil aviation officials to appear before the court to provide information concerning the fake licenses issue.