LAHORE: Continued negligence at the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) towards essential flight requirements may cause disruption of operations to foreign destinations, as the carrier’s safety ratings have increased to a critical level.
The Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme was initially launched by the European Civil Aviation Conference in 1996. Under this programme, international safety standards have been enforced within the European community by means of ramp inspections (or “ramp checks”) on third-country aircraft landing at airports located in the EU member states.
“At a time when the national airline is already going through a crisis; along with low profitability, these kinds of issues will further destroy its image and could result in practical problems for the airline,” said an official.
He revealed that recent inspections have already raised PIA SAFA Index to a critical level and any further findings could disrupt its operations to foreign destinations. On October 4, the PIA management issued a circular reiterating strict adherence to standard procedures and company policies to help avoid findings during SAFA inspections.
“All pilots are, therefore, advised to pay close attention to personal and on-board document validity on all flights. In addition, ‘no smoking’ policy must be adhered to at all times,” stated the circular.
The management warned that personal lapses leading to SAFA findings shall entail strict administrative action. “Your cooperation and professionalism in this regard shall help our airline to arrest the rising SAFA index,” the management appealed.
PIA’s response to shift the responsibility of the lapses on the employees can damage the airline’s reputation, an official remarked.
He said that the inspections were mainly regarding overall maintenance of the airline and proper flight-related documents. These are administrative issue and not the responsibility of the flight crew, the official added.
Citing an example of PIA’s negligence, the official revealed that PIA flight PK-284 was inspected by UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority on October 5, which found many technical and management problems.
“The management has to set things right on a war footing basis because the airline is already facing so many issues and any reduction in foreign operations will badly affect its finances.”
When contacted, the PIA spokesperson said that SAFA inspections are a regular feature, and normally they give some findings, which are contested and it takes a month to finalise the exact weightage of the issues raised.
“In this case SAFA inspections have not been finalised yet and we don’t have any intimation from them,” he said, adding that the letter circulated is a mere exercise PIA conducts on a weekly or monthly basis so employees may not get lethargic.
“We intend to bring a good safety culture within the organisation, so we regularly issue such circulars. It has nothing to do with SAFA activities,” the spokesman added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2017.