Of the 262 pilots with allegedly fake or dubious licenses, 161 have been thus far grounded
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority on Monday suspended the services of 68 more pilots it claimed possess “dubious” licenses, taking to 161 the total number of pilots who have been grounded pending verification of their credentials.
Thus far, the aviation regulator has cancelled the licenses of 28 pilots, with a spokesperson claiming a probe was ongoing into the credentials of the remainder to determine if their licenses were valid. Of the pilots that had been initially been suspended, 73 more are expected to have their licenses verified within the next two days.
Pakistan started verifying the credentials of its commercial pilots and ground staff after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan claimed in Parliament that around a third of all pilots had “fake” or “dubious” licenses. The CAA recently countered this in a letter to the Omani aviation regulator, claiming that all the licenses were valid, but some had “lapses” related to the computer-based examination that merited further investigation.
A spokesman for the Aviation Division said all Pakistani pilots currently operating international or domestic routes had been cleared. “Our top priority is public safety and we can’t compromise on it in any case,” he said, adding that all measures were being taken to ensure safety in line with government directives.
Since the aviation minister’s public declaration, Pakistani pilots employed across the world have come under scrutiny and the state flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, has been suspended from operating in European and U.K. airspace. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also revoked permission for PIA to conduct charter flights to the United States and its Federal Aviation Administration has downgraded Pakistan’s air safety rating.