In the aftermath of the May 22 crash of a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore to Karachi a preliminary investigation attributed the cause to pilot error and lack of professionalism. Cockpit crew talked throughout the journey about COVID-19 and its affect on their families, while ignoring standard operating procedures. 97 of the 99 passengers and crew on board were killed.
The investigation further revealed that more than 30% of pilots at the airlines have fake licenses and aren’t qualified to fly. All pilots suspected of this have been suspended.
262 pilots are believed to have paid someone else to take the required exam for them. The airline for its part deflects, saying fake pilots licenses are an issue for other Pakistani airlines too. For several years I’ve controversially called PIA the worst airline in the world.
Boeing 777 on Approach to New York JFK in 2014, Copyright zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo
This isn’t an issue strictly in Pakistan, however. Last year a South African Airways pilot was discovered to have been flying for 25 years on a fake license after triggering an investigation for taking strange turns over the Swiss alps. His original certificate had been forged, and he avoided annual checks. Reportedly an airline safety officer helped him cover up the forgery.