EU aviation watchdog satisfied with CAA's safety standards

Pakistan aviation officials say procedure for new licences for pilots made 'completely transparent'


Waqas Ahmed March 18, 2021
PIA: PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The European Union's aviation safety watchdog on Wednesday termed safety standards of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as "satisfactory".

The decision was made following a two-day meeting of the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and CAA officials, in which representatives from Denmark, Italy and Sweden participated via video link.

During the meeting, Deputy Director-General for Regulatory Affairs Nadir Shafi Dar briefed the participants on the steps taken by the country’s aviation authority.

He responded to queries of the EASA officials after which they expressed their satisfaction with regards to improvement in safety measures.

Read more: EU decides to retain ban on PIA flights

The aviation officials maintained that the procedure for new licences for pilots was made completely transparent and after the installation of the British system, the captains will also be required to undergo rigorous examinations as per the international standards.

CAA's Air Accident Investigation Board also briefed the watchdog regarding the investigation into the plane crashes.

In the first week of July, EASA had suspended the authorisation for the PIA to operate in the bloc for six months. The EASA move was in response to the grounding of 262 pilots whose licenses were termed “dubious” by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar.

“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement had read.

It all started after the aviation minister had told the National Assembly that there were a total of 860 pilots in Pakistan and out of those, 262 did not sit for exams as someone else did that for them. 40% licenses are “fake” or the pilots don’t have the required flying experience, the minister had said, adding that people were inducted on the basis of fake degrees, appointed on political basis and merit was ignored.

Also read: PIA decides not to appeal EU flight ban, 'will review turnaround strategy'

The inquiry report was submitted in connection with the PIA flight PK8303, which crashed in a residential area in Karachi on May 22. It had taken off from Lahore and came down about a kilometre (0.6 mile) short of the runway on its second attempt to land, killing all but two of the 99 aboard.

On July 7, the federal cabinet dismissed 28 pilots from service whose licenses were found suspected and against whom disciplinary proceedings were completed while allowing the national carrier’s CEO to complete his three-year term even after he retires from Pakistan Air Force on July 12.

The cabinet had given approval of hiring Malik as PIA CEO on April 26, 2018, on deputation as he was serving in the PAF. On Tuesday, the cabinet while approving the aviation division’s suggestion decided that Malik will complete his three years on a contractual basis.

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