Pakistan’s aviation authority has suspended another 68 pilots for possessing dubious licences, taking the number of those taken off duty for flying with fake credentials in the country to 161.
They were suspended by the Aviation Division on Monday, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The suspended persons are among the 262 pilots, who were grounded and put under investigation by the aviation ministry last month, for possessing suspicious licences, according to the newspaper.
Other than the 161 flying licences that have been suspended so far, 28 licences have been cancelled. The decision on the remaining 73 pilots is expected within the next two days.
The government was expected to present a report on July 21 before the Supreme Court on measures being taken for the safety of air travellers after Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had announced in the National Assembly that the licences of as many as 262 Pakistani pilots were dubious.
However, contrary to the aviation minister”s claim, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority recently declared that all commercial/airline transport pilot licences (CPL/ATPL) issued “are genuine and validly issued”.
A spokesman for the Aviation Division said all the Pakistani pilots flying on international or domestic routes had been cleared and are experienced.
“Our top priority is public safety and we can’t compromise on it in any case,” he said.
He said the entire process of scrutiny and validation of licences was being done after a double-check and disciplinary action was being closely monitored and supervised by the aviation minister himself.
The ”dubious” licences issue came to the fore after the preliminary probe report of the May 22 Karachi plane crash blamed the pilots and the air traffic control for the tragedy that killed 97 people.
The domestic flight from Lahore to Karachi had crashed in a residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.