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SC takes notice of pilots’ fake licenses, seeks reply from CAA in two weeks –CJP surprised to hear plane had no fault

ISLAMABAD : Taking notice of the issue of many pilots allegedly having fake licences, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed on Thursday the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and two other airline operators to submit a detailed report in this regard. The issue of pilots’ fake licences and degrees came up during the hearing of the suo motu case related to the Covid-19 crisis. A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, was hearing the case. During the hearing, the top judge has sought reply from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in two weeks. He said that the authority is issuing fake licenses to pilots for money. Justice Gulzar expressed shock over the facts shared by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar in National Assembly session. The leader had blamed pilot and CAA behind the crash and told that there was no fault in 15-year-old plane, he remarked. “I was surprised to hear that the 15-year-old plane had no [technical] fault,” he said, adding the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued pilots licences, therefore, it is to blame for the incident and how is the pilot responsible for it. Justice Gulzar asked the Attorney General of Pakistan to explain as to what action should be taken against the CAA, to which the latter replied that action should be taken as per the law. He said the CAA issued licences after taking bribe. Summoning the heads of the PIA, Serene Air, and Airblue on the next hearing, the bench questioned how and when fake licences were issued to pilots. What action was taken against those involved in issuing such licences, it further asked. It is to be mentioned here that in total, licenses of 262 pilots were said to be fake, against which PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik had summoned his legal and flight operations teams to decide upon appropriate course of action. The apex court sought reports based on verification of licences of pilots. It also directed the CAA director general to submit a report on the issue within two weeks’ time. Earlier, the government had decided to take stern action against all pilots who have been flying aircrafts on fake licenses. CAA had sought a list of these pilots to immediately ground them till the completion of the inquiry. Out of 400 PIA pilots, 150 captains were found to have obtained fake licenses. On June 24, Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan had presented initial investigation report on the PIA plane crash in the NA. Speaking in the House, the minister blamed plane’s captain, crew members and the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) for the crash, while PIA and the CAA have also been declared responsible because of their inaccuracies in preventing such accidents. CCTV footage showed that the ill-fated plane hit the runway after which, the pilot chose to go around (re-take off). Evidence of damages caused to both engines of the plane due to failed landing was also found, he told. Ghulam Sarwar said that pilot neglected instruction given by ATC and opened landing gears of the plane at 10 nautical miles while they were turned off at 5 nautical miles. Airport administration had told that the aircraft was flying at high altitude at the time of landing. The controller didn’t give any guidance after the plane hit the runway, he went on to say. He told that pilot and co-pilot were not focused and discussing coronavirus throughout their flight time. Action against the responsible people will be taken as per the law, he pledged. The aviation minister said that according to report, the plane was fit for take-off and its landing gears were also working properly. The captain and first officer of the aircraft were well experienced and the weather at that time was also suitable for flying, he stated. The inquiry report was prepared while keeping in view the investigation record, statements of staff and Airbus team’s report. Data flight recorders, cockpit voice recorders and flight records obtained from air traffic control are also part of the report, he continued.

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