PIA pilots are being blamed for last month’s plane crash in Karachi, and there were some shocking revelations when an interim accident report was presented to Pakistan’s parliament this week.

30 per cent of Pakistan's pilots have fake licences, aviation minister reveals

Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Pakistan’s aviation minister went before parliament on Wednesday to give details of an interim report into the crash of Pakistan International Airways flight 8303.

The Airbus A320 operating a flight from Lahore to Karachi came down in Model Colony near Karachi airport on May 22, 2020, killing 98 passengers and crew (though two passengers survived). Another person among eight people injured on the ground later passed away.

After explaining that the report blamed the cockpit crew for the incident, the minister told how around 30 per cent of all pilots working in Pakistan have fake licenses, saying:

“These pilots had not given the exams themselves nor did they have the proper flying experience. Pilots are also appointed on political basis, unfortunately. Whilst appointing pilots, merit is ignored.”

Associated Press of Pakistan reports the aviation minister said 262 out of 860 active pilots in Pakistan did not appear to have taken an examination.

Following that disclosure, 150 pilots at PIA were suspended this week. "Out of our 434 pilots, 150 will be grounded as of today," a PIA spokesman told Al Jazeera. PIA posted on Twitter that it was dealing with pilots holding “dubious” licenses:

Cockpit crew blamed for crash of PIA 8303

Human error (on the part of both the crew and air traffic control) is being blamed for the crash of PIA 8303, which came down on a second attempt to land.

On its first attempt, the landing gear wasn’t lowered, causing both engines to impact the runway. Sharing details of the interim accident report, Pakistan’s aviation minister said:

“The pilot was over-confident and attempted to land the plane before certain height despite the ATC’s warning, asking ‘I will manage it.’ The ATC did not inform the pilot about the damage occurred to the engines when the plane touched the land thrice, and took off again. The ATC should have asked for the emergency landing.”

He added that while the pilot and co-pilot were “highly experienced and fully medically fit” they were “not focused”. The cockpit crew are accused of being distracted with a conversation about coronavirus, which was apparently affecting their families.

The minister said the pilots had “ignored the instructions” of air traffic control and that their aircraft was too high for the approach. “The pilots and the ATC both did not follow protocol.”

Picture credit: Asuspine/ airlines.net/ Wikipedia

Summing up

The admission that as many as 30 per cent of Pakistan’s pilots have fake licenses is unbelievable and I can’t understand why countries would allow PIA to fly into their airports after this.

There aren’t many airlines I’m not willing to fly, but there’s no way I’m stepping foot on PIA (or any other Pakistani airline). How about you?

Credit for cover picture, showing the aircraft involved in the crash: Shadman Samee/ Wikpedia