In a strong reaction to Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s remarks about fake licenses of pilots, PALPA President Chaudhry Salman Saturday said the federal minister’s statements had jeopardized the jobs of the Pakistani pilots across the world.
“We reserve the right to file a defamation suit against the aviation minister,” Chaudhry said, addressing a press conference in Karachi. “We haven’t come here to protect 141 pilots but to fight our survival war. The list issued by Ghulam Sarwar Khan is baseless.”
He said the list issued by the aviation minister is itself dubious and replete with errors.
Pakistani pilots are extremely distressed, he said. The PALPA president said the federal minister did this as he wanted to divert attention from the air crash. Moreover, the federal minister wanted to save a particular group, he said.
Chaudhry Salman demanded the chief justice of Pakistan constitute a probe commission, saying pilots are willing to take part in any proceedings under the court.
He also pinpointed that the Civil Aviation Authority didn’t issue show-cause notices to any pilot so far.
The air crash investigations are carried out the world over in order to stem any future possibility of untoward incident, stressed Salman. The probes are not meant to shift the blame onto a single person, he said, adding, the same Pakistani pilots fly aircraft outside the country but no accident ever takes place.
262 pilots with ‘dubious’ credentials to be grounded: aviation minister
Aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar on Friday had announced that the credentials of 262 pilots were “dubious” and thus they will be barred from flying.
The pilots in the line of fire include 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, and 10 from Serene Airline, said the minister.
The rest of the 262 belong to flying clubs or chartered plane services, he said. He said all the airlines and the clubs had been conveyed that: “Their credentials are dubious, and they shouldn’t be allowed to fly.”
Khan said that a total of 753 pilots are serving in Pakistani airlines, while 107 are serving in foreign airlines bringing the number to 860.
Among the pilots, 121 pilots are suspected of faking one test result — someone else gave their exam. Forty-nine are suspected of faking two, 21 of faking three, 15 of faking four, 11 of faking five, 11 of faking six, 10 of faking seven, and 34 of faking eight papers, bringing their number to 262.
“The lists of the suspected pilots have been sent to relevant authorities, including a letter and a list of 141 pilots to PIA’s chief executive, instructing him to bar these men from further flying,” said the minister.
He went on to say that nine out of 28 pilots have “confessed” during a probe, and their licenses will be cancelled after approval from the federal cabinet as the issuing authority is CAA, but the federal government is the authority on cancelling licenses.
‘Almost 40% PIA pilots have fake licenses’
Khan while presenting the preliminary report of the plane crash in the National Assembly on Thursday had said the incident in which 97 people lost their lives had happened because the pilots were not focused and their lack of concentration caused the crash.
The report held the pilots and the air traffic controller (ATC) responsible for the incident, stating that the cockpit crew did not seem focused on the job and were thinking about the coronavirus instead.
Khan had revealed that it was observed that the pilot took the call from the ATC “very hurriedly” and told the tower that he would “manage”, after being informed that the aircraft was at a dangerous height. He added that recorder showed that even after taking the call, the pilots went back to their conversations about coronavirus.
Speaking about the pilots, the aviation minister had said, “Pakistan has 860 active pilots, which includes PIA, Serene Air, Air Blue. The inquiry which was initiated in February 2019 showed that 262 pilots did not give the exam themselves and asked someone else to give it on their behalf,” the minister said, adding that the pilots did not have the proper flying experience either.
He had added that the degrees of four PIA pilots had been found to be fake.