ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday validated licenses of 166 pilots working in foreign countries amid a scandal involving “dubious” flying certificates, which caused a global alert.
Pakistan’s civil aviation ministry grounded 262 pilots for “dubious” qualifications last month, prompted by a preliminary report into an airliner crash in Karachi in May that found the pilots had failed to follow standard procedures and disregarded alarms. That crash killed 97 passengers and crew.
The ministry had said earlier that Pakistan has a total of 860 pilots, 107 of whom work for foreign airlines, but updated on Thursday in a statement that it had received requests from 10 countries for validation of 176 pilots.
It said 166 of them have been validated by Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as “genuine and certified” and the remaining 10 will have their process completed by next week.
The 10 countries where these pilots are employed included United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, the ministry said. It said the validation had been conveyed to the respective countries.
Out of the 262 grounded pilots, the statement said, the licenses for 28 pilots have been canceled, and a process of verification for another 76 was underway.
The scandal has prompted the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suspended two Pakistani airlines’ authorization to fly to the bloc for six months over safety failure.
Britain and the United States have also revoked landing rights for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and various global safety boards have downgraded the national carrier’s rating over aviation safety risks.
Several countries have grounded the Pakistani pilots, seeking the validation from Pakistan.
Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) has said there are discrepancies in the government-prepared list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious.