When taking a flight, most of us probably think it's a given that the pilot knows his way around the control panel and has cleared all relevant exams to be allowed to take the lives of so many people into his hands. And while you'd usually be right, this was not quite the case in Pakistan until recently.
As per a CNN report, more than 30% of Pakistan's civilian pilots posses fake licenses -- having never actually taken their exams. They are thus not qualified to fly. The situation was revealed on Wednesday by the country's aviation minister.
The news comes against the backdrop of a horrifying plane crash that took place earlier this year, killing 97 people. On Wednesday, preliminary investigations revealed that the plane that crashed in a residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on May 22, due to human error by the pilots and air traffic control. As per Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, there had been a lack of concentration on their part which led to the crash of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane.
Since then, there has been a crackdown on the fake license issue. While the PIA announced that it has grounded 150 pilots with "dubious licenses", one can't help but wonder how the issue had not been noticed for so long. Reportedly, some of these fake pilots had also worked with foreign carriers. The cash-strapped airlines has reportedly said that the grounding of so many pilots will affect its services.
Those pilots who get their licenses verified will be allowed back on duty, Geo News quoted the PIA spokesperson as saying.
As per the CNN report that quotes Ghulam Sarwar Khan, 262 of Pakistan's 860 active pilots did not have flying experience and had apparently paid others to take the aviation exams on their behalf. This becomes a rather frightening prospect when one looks at the sheer number of flights they must have maneuvered till date.
And according to the PIA, this is not the first time people have been made aware of this issue. Reportedly, the carrier had flagged the issue of dubious licences issued by the aviation regulator after an ATR skidded off the runway in Panjgur in November 2018. Indeed, there have been previous media reports on the same, and the PIA has fired employees in the past too for possessing fake qualifications.