40 per cent of pilots have fake licenses, mostly pilots did not have flying experience.says Aviation Minister

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ISLAMABAD, June24: Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has declared that almost 40 per cent of pilots have fake licenses mostly pilots did not have flying experience. Majority of the pilots were not hired on merit, fake degrees and licenses were issued to them .

The Minister said that the government has decided to take action against all such pilots. “In the first phase, 54 such pilots were identified. Show cause notices were issued to 24 while nine others confessed that they were unqualified.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar , while presenting report of PIA plane clash in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said that the initial report of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) June 22 plane crash found the pilots and air traffic control (ATC) officials to be at fault for not following set procedures.

The minister said that there are 860 active pilots in the country out of that 262 pilots did not even take their exams themselves. The government had observed that major airlines in other countries did not have such a history of crashes and therefore, started to investigate pilots, he added

The Minister expressed that there was no technical fault in the plane and both the pilots were medically fit to fly. He added that data from the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was decoded in the presence of foreign experts.

“According to the report, the plane was 100 per cent fit for flying. It had no technical fault. Flights were suspended due to corona, the plane took its first flight on May 7 and the crash happened on May 22. In between, it completed six flights successfully; five to and from Karachi and one to Sharjah.

“The pilot on the final approach did not identify any technical fault [as well]. At a distance of 10 miles from runway, the plane should have been at an altitude of 2,500 feet but it was around 7,220 feet. This was the first irregularity,” Khan said.

He said that the ATC told the pilot thrice that the plane was too low to land but he refused to listen. Another important factor was that the pilot closed the landing gears at a distance of five nautical miles from the runway even though they were open before, he added.

Talking about further mistakes, Khan said that the plane was on auto-landing but the pilot brought it back to manual landing before the crash. It should have come in at 40 degrees but it dived at 60 degrees, he added.

The minister also blamed the pilots’ “over confidence and lack of focus” for the crash. “The pilots were discussing corona throughout the flight. They were not focused. They talked about corona and its impact on their families. when the control tower asked him to increase the plane’s height, the pilot said ‘I’ll manage’. There was overconfidence.”

The minister, however, added that the control tower was at fault too for not pointing out the damage to the plane after a failed attempt at landing. “[Air traffic controller] should have informed when he saw the engines on fire. The control tower did not inform pilot [so it] was at fault too. When the plane took off again, both engines were damaged.

“He was an extremely experienced pilot. What is sad is that because of the overconfidence and lack of focus of pilot and co-pilot, such a big incident happened. The interim report says cabin crew and control tower were also at fault,” he said, adding that the full report would be released before the end of the year.

The minister also spoke about past accidents, the Air Blue crash in 2010, Bojha Airlines crash in 2012, plane crash in Chitral in 2016 and the crash landing of a plane in Gilgit in 2019. He said that Air Blu and Bojha Airlines crash occurred due to “human error and various breaches of flying discipline”.

He added that the technical fault in the Chitral incident was “so complicated” that the plane manufacturer itself has not been able to reach a conclusion yet. The minister, however, promised that its inquiry report would be presented in August of this year.

Shortly after the crash last month, the government had formed a committee, headed by Air Commodore Usman Ghani, who is president of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to determine the causes of the crash and issue a report in one month’s time.

An 11-member team of Airbus, the manufacturer of the A320 aircraft, had also visited the country and investigated the site of the incident to offer technical assistance to Pakistani investigators in the PK-8303 crash probe.

Earlier this month, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in a letter to the PIA that the pilot of the crashed aircraft did not follow the instructions of the ATC.

The CAA letter said the duty approach controller had raised a non-compliance report in respect of the pilot of PK-8303. It claimed that the pilot was warned twice about his speed and high altitude for approach but he did not follow.

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