CAA; the leading cause of deteriorating aviation in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), otherwise known as CAA, is considered to be an autonomous body thereby, it has the sole right to establish its own laws and code of conduct. Ultimately, there is some potential for such a body to turn into a mafia which may coerce individuals and/or other bodies into its fixed mold or worse, blackmailing them into submission.

Cases where the individual may attempt to fight against the pressure of CAA, they will be forced out by public humiliation most often than not. Moreover, the CAA which was formed in December of 1982, also happens to be a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Additionally, it has affiliations with or ownership of most private airports across the state. This makes it an easy task for them to control and manipulate the careers and future prospects of the CAA-appointed rebels.

Illegal appointments affecting CAA’s performance

Nepotism, corruption and mismanagement continues to engulf the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with many believing that favoritism and nepotism has ruined the performance of the authority, risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of passengers.

According to the reports of Baaghi TV, the authority, which is responsible for operating all airports including major international airports, has been run by incompetent top-level officials who do not even meet the requisite criteria for the post. Some official documents have revealed that the CAA service regulations and temporary/ permanent/ contractual appointments on senior positions and induction criteria of different officers need strict scrutiny.

The corruption and irregularities were revealed which disclosed that some officers have been appointed on top-level posts setting all rules and regulations aside. Baaghi TV learnt that such is the level of favoritism in CAA that the person currently appointed as Director Flight Standards (DFS), Captain Syed M. Rafatullah was previously selected as a Flight Inspector, but was then removed, as he did not meet the requisite criteria for the post. Captain Rafatullah does not have any wide body experience and was previously terminated from CAA due forged flying hours.

Moreover, he has no experience regarding management which is one of the basic requirements. He now serves as the director of the whole department thanks to the secretary aviation, who was his ex-course mate, Director General (DG) CAA, Shahrukh Nusrat.

Similarly, New Islamabad Airport has been making headlines since its inauguration due to poor management situation and non-provision of facilities to passengers. As a result of which, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and airport management have faced severe criticism right after the inauguration. Billions of rupees were spent to make faulty runways and terminals that leak incessantly. A serious technical mistake was made which severely restricts the airport’s capability to handle two concurrent flights at the same time.

New Islamabad Airport portraying the CAA incompetence

It is to be noted that while talking about the plane crash, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar said that, the degrees of several pilots in the scrutiny after the show cause were found to be fake and that the questionable licenses of 262 pilots is certainly worrisome.

According to reports, the Honorable Aviation Minster came on the National Assembly floor and delivered the initial report of the tragic incident of PK 8303. He also mentioned previous incidents including those of: Airblue Flight 202 crash in 2010, Bhoja Air Flight 213 crash in 2012, PIA Flight 661 crash in 2016, PIA flight 517 crash Landing at Punjgur in 2018, and PIA Flight 605 crash landing at Gilgit in July 2019, and lastly the ill fated PIA Flight 8303 crash this year.

The Honorable Minister especially pinned the PIA Flight 661 (Chitral Crash) an exception to pilot errors from the above mentioned cases while, the others were suggested to be errors made by pilots. Furthermore, Ghulam Sarwar added that approximately thirty to forty percent of pilots had cleared their license exams by unfair means such as having someone else appear for the examination. This raises questions pertaining to the inner dealings of the CAA, a topic on which senior anchorperson and talk show host, Mubasher Lucman has made a detailed report, in which the intricacies and duplicities have been argued.

It is significant to note that if such a ratio of pilots have acquired their licences by dodgy means and the CAA officials have briefed the Aviation Minister as has been reported, then the Aviation department is agreeing to participating in the production of counterfeit documents and thereby, ironically presenting their own hypocrisy. Moreover, as mentioned prior to this, someone from the Civil Aviation Authority must be engaging in such criminal activities and putting countless lives at risk, another point which has been discussed in detail by Mubasher Lucman on his official YouTube channel. It is pertinent to note that two sub-departments of the CAA namely, licensing and IT are involved in such dodgy dealings.

According to reports of Baaghi TV, Minister Ghulam Sarwar mentioned that nearly 200 to 300 pilots are currently operating on questionable licenses. In addition to this, while there is no circumstantial evidence to support the claims, it is suggested that officials of the CAA have taken approximately Rs. 700,000/- to Rs 1,000,000/- as per the situation thereby, making a profit of roughly 250 to 300 million rupees.

According to further reports, the CAA has manipulated their ‘data bank of questions’ in such a manner that a hardworking pilot will not be able to clear the exam without partaking in bribing the officials, respectively. It is to be noted that in situations where multiple answer questions are given, the CAA repeats choices in a selected question suggesting that option A and Option D can both be the answer and consequently can be disregarded simultaneously, by the officials if they deem it unfit.

Baaghi TV has learnt that the CAA tests the potential pilots by questioning them about human anatomy, which further raises questions as to the connection between flying and anatomy. What could a pilot possibly have to do with such knowledge? Do we expect our pilots to diagnose and/or operate while in the air?

These facts beg immediate inquiry into the inner dealings of the aviation authority if we are to save the lives of innocent travelers in the future. Meanwhile, Baaghi TV has learnt that there are some CAA officials who believe that there is in fact discrepancy in the department, which if exposed in a thorough investigation, would expose many big names hidden behind the label of the CAA.

It is to be noted that while action has been taken against the pilots in question, and their licences have been revoked, no significant action has been initiated against the officials of CAA, neither have they been reprimanded for such activities. Furthermore, pertaining to the recently released inquiry interim report of the PK-8303 crash, responsible parties have been identified yet there is a need to understand the problems within the PCAA and the PIA, in depth.

AVIATION WOES

According to reports of Baaghi TV, there are very few countries in which the CAA is responsible for all basic functions, then why the need to blame either PIA or PALPA for the shortcomings of the CAA itself? It has been suggested that the CAA should be divided to allow better running of its operations such as:

  • CAA Regulatory Company
  • Airports Management Company
  • Air Traffic Service company

Similarly, the core issue with PIA is the same as that of the CAA. The organization has included too many non-aviation issues as a part of its system. It is suggested that PIA’s engineering set up be run as an independent company to ensure promising results. Furthermore, the following should be privatized:

  • Training and testing of the airlines
  • The kitchen crew
  • The airport management
  • The ticketing process

It is believed that the government department is overburdened by the effects of what is considered a ‘financial hemorrhage’ as a result of over-staffing, sue to which PIA management needs to take certain necessary precautions. Analysts suggest that PIA should be divided into eight sub-companies, including:

  • The PIAC: Air passenger and cargo service provider
  • Air Engineering Company
  • Ground Handling Agency on the pattern of Shaheen Airport Services
  • Ground Engineering Support Company
  • Air Kitchen company
  • Aviation Training and testing Company inclusive of Simulator training and testing
  • Aviation Ticketing Company
  • Hospitality service company to manage PIA owned hotels in Pakistan and abroad

Furthermore, the Safety and Investigation Board (SIB) needs to be revamped. SIB is currently under the leadership of the Aviation Ministry however, it should be functioning under the Cabinet Division which is directly responsible for the Parliamentary Committee of Aviation, respectively. Thereby it is suggested to focus on improving the workings of the SIB to enable daily routine checkups be carried out to ensure that everything is up to date. For this, there is need to increase number of senior pilots as well as engineers and airport management specialists including Air Traffic Controllers who have been retired.

Nine pilots admitted of having fake licences

Furthermore, to guarantee better functioning of Pakistan’s Aviation authority, the SIB should be deployed at airports across the state with the desired radars and monitors to ensure safety and security of the passengers as well as progress of the aviation department, respectively.

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