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More trouble as EASA suspends Pakistani airline flights over safety concerns

PIA Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-240(ER) AP-BGJ sourced from Planespotters,net
EUROPEAN Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to serve European member states over safety concerns, the agency says, days after Pakistan’s aviation ministry ordered grounding of 150 pilots over fraud fears.

A Pakistan inquiry, after the May 22, PIA Airbus A320 crash in which 98 people were killed, found that almost a third of active Pakistani pilots may have obtained their licences fraudulently.

According to a letter sent to the state-owned Pakistani airline, EASA found deficiencies in the airline’s safety management system and will suspend its authorization as of midnight GMT on Wednesday (Today).

The decision is also applicable to Vision Air, a Pakistani charter airline, EASA said in an emailed statement.

In its letter, sent on Tuesday, EASA said the PIA response did not address its concerns regarding overall air safety in Pakistan, in addition to its specific concerns regarding PIA’s safety management systems.

“[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.”

PIA has the right to appeal the decision within two months of June 30, the letter says.

EASA’s Third Country Operator (TCO) authorisation is a pre-requisite for EU member states to issue operating permits to any foreign airline.

PIA grounded 150 of its 434 pilots on Friday following an announcement by the country’s aviation minister 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 plane crash in southern Pakistan last month.

Ninety-eight (98) people were killed when a PIA Airbus A320 crashed into a residential neighbourhood about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.

A PIA spokesperson confirmed the development stating that PIA would suspend all flights to the EU as of midnight on Wednesday.

With Agency Reports

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