Alarmingly, a preliminary investigation into a deadly plane crash in Pakistan has found that 1-in-3 of the country’s pilots have fake licenses and are unqualified to fly. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 crashed in the city of Karachi on May 22 after taking off from Lahore, killing 97 people.
While it remains unclear whether the pilots of the ill-fated aircraft were among those with wrongfully acquired licenses, a PIA spokesman said that they were discussing coronavirus throughout the flight, were unconcentrated, overconfident and ignored several warnings from air traffic control. They tried to touch down on their initial attempt without lowering the landing gear, resulting in the tower observing a shower of sparks from the engines and they then crashed into a residential part of Karachi on their second landing attempt after their engines failed.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Pakistan’s aviation minister, addressed the country’s National Assembly and said that out of 860 active pilots serving domestic airlines (and some foreign carriers), 262 have fake licenses. He said that those individuals paid someone else to sit the exam on their behalf and were thus unqualified to fly. PIA immediately grounded all pilots with fake licenses once the shocking revelation emerged. The International Air Transport Association is monitoring the situation and it stated that it is “following reports from Pakistan regarding fake pilot licenses, which are concerning and represent a serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”.