Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan Worldwide Airways (PIA) has suspended 150 pilots after questions over the authenticity of their licences emerged, a spokesman informed Al Jazeera.
The announcement comes a day after an preliminary investigation discovered human error was primarily chargeable for a PIA airplane crash that killed 98 individuals in southern Pakistan final month.
“Out of our 434 pilots, 150 shall be grounded as of as we speak,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan informed Al Jazeera by phone from Karachi, the place the crash befell on Could 22.
“It is going to completely cripple us. However we can not take dangers with this.”
Thursday’s suspensions will stay till investigations might be carried out to confirm the authenticity of the pilots’ licences. The airline will primarily look into allegations that the pilots didn’t sit for the examinations themselves and despatched others as a substitute.
Seventeen pilots had been suspended in January 2019 over related allegations following a probe into an air crash within the southwestern Pakistani city of Panjgur – the place a airplane carrying 43 passengers careered off the runway after making an unsafe strategy – mentioned Khan. Nobody was injured in that incident.
PIA acknowledges the AAIB report and have already taken measures studying from it. An impartial Flight Information Monitoring setup established to watch & analyze all flights. All pilots with doubtful licenses shall be grounded. Security is extra imp. than any business curiosity
— PIA (@Official_PIA) June 24, 2020
On Wednesday, Pakistani aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan informed Parliament that 262 of Pakistan’s 860 energetic, licensed pilots had been discovered to have suspect licences.
“[They] had been discovered to not have given their exams themselves,” mentioned Khan. “They offer cash and have a dummy candidate sit of their place.”
On Could 22, 98 individuals had been killed when a PIA Airbus A320 crashed right into a residential neighbourhood about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from Karachi’s Jinnah Worldwide Airport.
The preliminary investigation report, launched by Khan on Wednesday, mentioned “human error” by the plane’s pilots and air site visitors controllers was primarily accountable for the crash.
Crash report disputed
The Pakistan Air Line Pilots Affiliation (PALPA) disputed the report’s findings, with a spokesperson telling Al Jazeera it was not happy that there had been pilots skilled to fly the identical mannequin plane concerned within the investigation.
PALPA didn’t provide any quick touch upon Thursday’s licence suspensions.
The air accident investigation board’s preliminary report discovered that the pilot concerned within the Could 22 crash had ignored three warnings from air site visitors management concerning the plane’s extreme altitude and pace throughout strategy.
The plane tried a touchdown with out its touchdown gear in place, inflicting its engines to hit the runway 3 times earlier than the pilot lifted off once more, the report mentioned.
On his second strategy, the pilot reported that each engines – broken by the affect with the runway – had failed. The plane crashed right into a dense residential neighbourhood simply wanting the airport on its second strategy, killing 97 of the 99 individuals on board.
A baby, who was in one of many 29 properties destroyed by the crash, was additionally killed, hospital officers informed Al Jazeera.
Aviation Minister Khan mentioned a authorities inquiry was ongoing into all 262 alleged instances of fraud in acquiring pilots licences.
PIA’s spokesman informed Al Jazeera that any pilots discovered to have lied about their credentials “shall be terminated”.
State-owned PIA is the most important of Pakistan’s business air carriers, with smaller airways Serene Air and Air Blue taking on many of the remainder of the nation’s air site visitors.
Representatives for these airways – whose pilots had been additionally included within the checklist of alleged “doubtful” licence holders – weren’t instantly accessible for remark.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.