The Supreme Court (SC) has taken notice of reports of pilots allegedly flying planes in Pakistan without licences.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed has summoned a reply from the director general (DG) of civil aviation within two weeks, directing him to explain how and why these fake licences are issued and what action is being taken against the people who issue them.
Putting passengers’ lives at risk is a major crime, the CJP said and also summoned the heads of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air Blue and Serene Air at the next hearing, directing them to submit reports verifying the licences of their respective pilots.
PIA GROUNDS 150 PILOTS:
In a related development, PIA announced on Thursday that it will be grounding nearly 150 out of its 426 pilots amid an inquiry that they hold “dubious” licences.
A day earlier, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said 262 pilots, out of total 860 in the country, have suspicious flying licences and would be grounded immediately.
Talking to media in Islamabad, he said licences of these pilots are dubious.
The minister stated that there are some pilots, who did not appear in any paper but managed to get the licences.
He informed that the government has decided that all such pilots would be issued show cause notices and charge sheets so that they could not fly any plane.
Sarwar said criminal proceedings would also be initiated against pilots with fake licences as the government could not allow anyone to put the lives of its citizens at risk.
The decision comes at a time when an initial inquiry into a PIA plane crash was presented before the parliament by the country’s aviation minister, who also highlighted irregularities at the national carrier.
PIA’S REACTION TO MINISTER’S CLAIM:
Earlier, PIA asked the Aviation Division to provide a list of all quack pilots associated with the airline.
PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik wrote a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) DG in reference to the minister’s claim that out of 264 fake or suspicious licences, around 150 belonged to PIA pilots.
As an operator as well as the national flag carrier, he said, “It is a grave concern for us as many out of these 150 pilots must be flying PIA aircraft, which cannot be allowed after disclosure of fake/suspicious licences scam by [the] aviation minister”.
Arshad Malik reminded the top CAA official that he had penned a similar letter to the aviation secretary for the provision of a list of those PIA pilots having fake or suspicious licences but no response had so far been received.