Pak SC briefed on steps over pilots licences

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed the Supreme Court that it had restricted access to its licensing and examination system after the recent disclosure about dubious pilot licences.

Only the authorised systems located at the pilot licensing branch and examination hall, Islamabad, had access to the examination application server, the CAA stated in a report furnished before the apex court on Saturday.

At the previous hearing on June 25, the Supreme Court had summoned the CAA director gen­eral and sought an exp­l­a­nation regarding the all­eg­ed issuance of dubious/fake lic­e­nces to the pilots who flew passenger aircraft of different airlines, thus putting the lives of people at stake, Dawn news reported.

In response, CAA DG Hassan Nasir Jamy furnished the report before the court explaining that a security firewall had been configured to only authorise designated system or clients to create connection with the licensing and examination application server, whereas the connections from other systems had been blocked completely.

To prevent misuse of the system after office hours, the application server would remain shut down and no examination could be executed after office hours, it said, adding that network printers had been installed in the examination halls where the marks sheet would be signed by both examinee and examiner after each exam.

Recalling the 2018 direction of the Supreme Court for verification of degrees and certificates of the pilots holding commercial licences and cabin crew, the report mentioned that the CAA had undertaken an exercise and completed it in January 2019.

During this exercise, 16 pilots were identified with fake educational certificates and suspended, but they opted for a right of appeal and on verification of having valid equivalent qualification, the suspension of eight pilots was withdrawn.

Lately, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) identified 262 suspended pilots, including the 54 earlier suspended, who had access to the CAA computerized technical system.

The issue of ‘dubious’ licences drew world attention after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan revealed in the National Assembly that there were 860 active pilots in the country and 260 pilots had not sat their exams themselves and almost 30 per cent of the pilots had fake or improper licence and did not have flying experience, Dawn news reported.

The issue has also caught the attention of other countries and airlines where Pakistani pilots were employed.

The countries which grounded the Pakistani pilots and asked the Aviation Division to verify their credentials included the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, Ethiopia and Bahrain.

The European Union Air Safety Agency has also announced suspension of Pakistan International Airlines’ authorisation for six months.

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