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The European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) flights to European member states over safety concerns.
EASA made the decision, days after a Pakistani inquiry found almost a third of active Pakistani pilots may have obtained their licences fraudulently.
PIA grounded 150 of its 434 pilots on Friday following the country’s aviation minister said that 262 of the country’s 860 active pilots’ licence holders may have obtained their credentials by committing examination fraud.
Last week an initial investigation found human error was primarily responsible for a deadly PIA A320 plane crash in southern Pakistan last month that killed 98 people.
Easa says the crash revealed “successive breaches of multiple layers of safety defences in the safety management system”.
“[The grounding of pilots] does not mitigate EASA’s concern, as there are strong indications that a high number of Pakistani pilot licenses are invalid,” says the letter.
“EASA therefore no longer has confidence that Pakistan, as the State of operator, can effectively ensure that operators certified in Pakistan comply at all times with the applicable requirements for crew qualification.” the letter says.
PIA has the right to appeal the decision within two months of June 30, the letter says.
“We would definitely be appealing,” said Abdullah Khan, the spokesperson. “We have taken a lot of confidence building measures, but EASA does not appear to be very impressed with that.”
The decision is also applicable to Vision Air, a Pakistani charter airline.