EASA ready to lift the ban on PIA?

On June 30, 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) air operations permit for European countries for six months.

The ban came in the aftermath of the Aviation Minister’s speech in the Parliament regarding results of an investigations which revealed that more than 260 out of 860 pilot licenses issued by the Pakistani authorities are fraudulent.

However, Baaghi TV has reliably learnt that the EASA, on December 2, 2020, issued a letter to the Pakistan International Airlines stating that the documents submitted by the airline has been reviewed and found ‘satisfactory and sufficient’ as a first important step towards the lifting of ban on the airline.

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The letter expressed confidence in the PIA’s initiatives on safety management system for flight safety, but said that the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was not working to improve the pilot licensing system. Therefore, the current ban on PIA flights to Europe cannot be lifted.

Till today, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as a regulatory body did not conduct a single meeting with all stake holders of airlines to give a feedback on this issue of EASA ban. This has resulted in the loss of credibility of the CAA as the regulator to perform its regulatory function.

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Aviation sources said that despite repeated reminders from international organizations, the Aviation Division and the Pakistan CAA have failed to satisfy the international civil aviation bodies on the establishment of a safety management system and licensing system.

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The letter further stated that a quality audit of the Pakistan CAA is necessary to lift the ban and this audit can only be done when ‘there is a possibility that the audit will have a positive result’.

The question is that when will we actually realize that our Aviation industry is at verge of collapse due to the incompetence of the regulatory body (i.e. CAA). Pakistan aviation is already facing sanctions with threats of restricting their overflight or landing at major airports.

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The Government of Pakistan must understand the gravity of the situation by making changes at the top level of the Civil Aviation Authroity to restore credibility and send a message to EASA and others that international safety standards will be strictly followed and in the future, the system of licenses issued and conduct of examinations will be transparent without any exception.

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