- More than 30% of commercial airline pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses, the country’s aviation minister said.
- The revelation came when a new report blamed the pilot’s error for an accident in May that killed 97 people near Karachi.
- 262 of the country’s 860 commercial pilots have been punished due to illegitimate licenses.
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More than 30% of civilian commercial pilots in Pakistan have false licenses and are not fully qualified to fly passenger planes, the country’s aviation minister said on Wednesday.
The surprising revelation came as part of the investigation into a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in May. PIA Flight 8303 crashed near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, killing 97 people.
The disclosure came along with a preliminary report announcing the results of the accident investigation. A pilot error was cited: The two pilots were discussing the coronavirus pandemic during the sensitive parts of the landing procedure and repeatedly ignored warnings from air traffic controllers.
In a speech to the Pakistan National Assembly, aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that 262 of the 860 commercial airline pilots active in the country “did not take the test themselves,” according to CNN, referring to the tests. of certification. The pilots in question had reportedly paid others to take the test.
“They have no flying experience,” added Khan.
The 860 pilots flew to Pakistan International Airways, the nation’s flagship airline, as well as low-cost domestic and foreign airlines.
PIA punished all its pilots with illegitimate licenses, the airline said in a statement.
“PIA recognizes that fake licenses are not just a PIA problem, but are spread throughout the Pakistani airline industry,” airline spokesman Abdullah Khan told CNN.
It was not immediately clear if the pilots involved in the accident had legitimate pilot licenses.
“The pilots discussed the crown throughout the flight. They were not focused. They discussed the coronavirus and how their families were affected,” said Khan, the aviation minister, according to CNN.
Khan added that air traffic controllers repeatedly ordered pilots to abort their landing attempt because the plane was too high, “but the captain did not heed these instructions.”
The pilots proceeded with the landing attempt, but were unable to properly lower the landing gear.
“The plane touched the surface of the runway on its engines,” the accident report said, causing sparks and damage. The pilots tried to get back into the air, but the damaged engines failed and caused the crash.
Both Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan’s largest aviation industry have had an erratic safety record over the years, with several incidents, including another fatal accident in the past decade.