Pakistan blocked from flying to US after scandal over fake pilot licences

US downgrades safety rating of Pakistan's aviation authority

In this 2011 photo, a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet is parked on the tarmac at a military base in Makassar, Indonesia. AP Photo
In this 2011 photo, a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet is parked on the tarmac at a military base in Makassar, Indonesia. AP Photo

US federal aviation authorities blocked Pakistan's airlines from flying to the US after revelations that at least 30 per cent of Pakistan’s civil pilots fraudulently obtained their licences.

The US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the safety rating of Pakistan’s aviation system to Category 2, which effectively bars Pakistan’s airlines from starting new services to the US.

The rating was downgraded “because it does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation safety standards”, the US aviation agency said.

There are no regularly scheduled flights between the countries.

The scandal over pilot licences in Pakistan emerged from an investigation into a crash in May in Karachi that killed 97 people.

The inquiry determined that 262 of 860 pilots in Pakistan cheated on their pilots tests but still obtained licences.

Pakistan’s Aviation Minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, last week told Parliament that the 262 pilots had paid someone else to complete exams on their behalf.

The state carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, said it fired 28 pilots found to have tainted licences.

The government fired five officials of the civil aviation agency and is considering criminal charges.

The EU has banned Pakistan International Airlines from flying into Europe for six months.

The EU Aviation Safety Agency said it was “concerned about the validity of the Pakistani pilot licences and that Pakistan, as the state of operator, is currently not capable to certify and oversee its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards".

UAE regulators have also suspended passenger flights from Pakistan entering the country.

The General Civil Aviation Authority requested from Pakistan “clarifications pertaining to the authenticity of Pakistani-issued licences and verifications of the qualifications of their pilots".

It reviewed all of its records to ensure “no suspicious licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority has entered its system".

Updated: July 16, 2020 12:52 AM

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