Almost 1 in 3 pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses, says aviation minister

Addressing the Pakistan National Assembly, Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that 262 pilots in the country “did not take the exam themselves” and had paid someone else to present it on their behalf.

“They have no flying experience,” he said.

Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its national airlines, including the flagship of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), as well as several foreign airlines, Khan said.

PIA has punished all its pilots who have false licenses, with immediate effect.

“PIA recognizes that fake licenses are not just a PIA problem, but spread throughout the Pakistani airline industry,” spokesman Abdullah Khan said, adding that some of the fake pilots also fly for foreign airlines.

The results of the investigation were announced Wednesday as part of a preliminary report on a plane crash that killed 97 people in the southern city of Karachi on May 22. The PIA plane crashed after taking off from Lahore, killing all but two of the passengers and crew on board.

Khan did not clarify whether the two pilots on Flight PK 8303 had false licenses.

According to the report, the pilots were talking about the coronavirus and repeatedly ignored warnings from air traffic controllers before the plane landed in a residential area near the airport.

“The pilots discussed the crown throughout the flight. They were not focused. They discussed the coronavirus and how their families were affected,” said Khan, adding that the pilots were “too confident.”

According to Khan, air traffic controllers told pilots three times that the plane was too high and that they should not attempt to land, “but the captain did not heed these instructions.”

The pilots proceeded to try to land, without lowering the landing gear.

“The plane touched the surface of the runway on its engines,” the report said. The engines scoured the track, causing sparks and irreparable damage.

According to the report, the pilots re-launched the plane into the air, but the damaged engines failed and the plane crashed.