Europe’s air security agency suspends PIA’s TCO authorization for six months

PIA is in contact with EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision.

KARACHI: European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended PIA’s authorization to operate in Europe for six months starting July 01, 2020, following revelations that 40 percent pilots have fake licenses.

“EASA has received information according to which on Wednesday 24 June 2020, the Aviation Minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, informed the Pakistani Parliament of the results of an investigations which revealed that more than 260 out of 860 pilot licenses issued by the Pakistani authorities and used by pilots operating for air operators certified in Pakistan are fraudulent,” EASA noted in a letter to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

“Pakistan, as the State of operator, is currently not capable to certify and oversee its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards”.

EASA notified PIA on June 26th that EASA intended to suspend the Third Country Operator (TCO) Authorisation. PIA was given the opportunity to voice its opinion on EASA’s intentions to suspend the authorisation. PIA provided its opinion and additional information on EASA’s intention to suspend the TCO Authorisation, but the material was assessed by EASA as insufficient.

It may be mentioned here EASA had given PIA an extension of the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) implementation deadline from 24 May 2020 to 17 June 2020. “Following the recent tragic events that M/S Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited has faced, including flight PK8303 on 22 May 2020 and the initial findings laid down in the preliminary accident report showing successive breaches of multiple layers of safety defences in the safety management system, EASA is concerned that the safety management system is not achieving its primary objective,” it said.

PIA was issued with the TCO Authorisation on May 17, 2016. As part of the continuous monitoring, EASA carries out an assessment of PIA operation under the TCO Authorisation in order to assess the continued compliance with the applicable requirements.

Vietnam’s aviation authority has already grounded all Pakistani pilots working for local airlines on the same pretext. The 27 Pakistani pilots flying with Vietnamese airlines will be subject to a review process, following which they will be cleared if their licences are approved, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) noted.

Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed concern over the “serious lapse in licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”.

Several Middle-Eastern airlines reportedly initiated a probe into the credentials of Pakistani employees.

Meanwhile, the national flag carrier said EASA temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states with the right to appeal against this decision.

Subsequently, PIA is discontinuing its flights to Europe temporarily, all passengers booked on PIA flights to European sectors will have the option to either extend their bookings for a later date or get full refunds.

“PIA is in contact with EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision. PIA sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA Management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected,” PIA statement noted.

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