Three officials of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been sacked for their alleged involvement in the fake flying licence scandal in the country’s national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), according to media reports on Thursday.
A fourth CAA employee obtained a stay order from a court against the possible decision to sack him, The Dawn newspaper reported.
The scandal over pilot licences in Pakistan emerged from an investigation into the crash of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane on May 22 in Karachi that killed 97 people on board. The inquiry determined that nearly one-third of Pakistan’s pilots cheated on exams but still received licences from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA was tasked by the Supreme Court on July 21 to immediately complete an inquiry against pilots of the national carrier, following a revelation by the aviation minister about fake documents of scores of pilots.
A senior official told the newspaper that initially five officials of the aviation and licensing branch had been suspended and show-cause notices issued to them for their alleged involvement in the scandal, and later three of them had been removed after the completion of the process.
Of the three, two senior officials were dismissed by the CAA director general, while the third one, a junior officer, was removed by an additional director.
Of the five suspended officials, two were senior joint directors (licensing), an HR senior superintendent and two assistants. The Aviation Division had sent the cases of the five CAA officials to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for criminal inquiry against them. However, the FIA had yet to complete the inquiry against them, sources said.
The authorities, meanwhile, have completed the verification of licences of 262 pilots from their personal manual data and will present a report in a Cabinet meeting.
These pilots have been categorised by the aviation authorities as some of them may face cancellation of their flying licences and some may be cleared. They also included those who had committed ‘rest times’ violations.
In June this year, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had disclosed in Parliament that out of 850 pilots, 262 were holding ‘suspicious’ licences.
The minister’s statement had caused panic, leading to the grounding of 262 pilots.
In June, the CNN had reported that PIA had acknowledged that fake licenses was not just a PIA issue but spread across the entire Pakistani airline industry. Spokesperson Abdullah Khan had been quoted to say that some of the fake pilots also fly for foreign carriers.