KARACHI: After passing of 1 yr, hopes for lifting of a ban on all Pakistan-registered plane to enter European Union member states in addition to the UK have been eroded after the worldwide aviation watchdog delayed this month’s scheduled security audit of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for an unspecified interval, it emerged on Tuesday.
In July 2020, the European Union Aviation Security Company (EASA) had suspended the third nation operator authorisation of the nationwide flag provider, Pakistan Worldwide Airways, to function flights within the EU member states for six months because of security issues in opposition to the backdrop of the Might 22 Karachi airplane crash and the following damning assertion of Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan that 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots possessed doubtful licences.
Learn: Allegations by minister ‘whose personal diploma is pretend’ resulted in PIA Europe ban, claims Bilawal
Whereas the EASA ban is on the state of Pakistan as a result of the aviation minister used preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation to level an accusing finger in the direction of the oversight position of the CAA in testing and licensing of pilots, it’s the PIA that has borne the brunt of the ban probably the most being the one Pakistani airline at the moment working flights to EU states and the UK.
Whereas the PIA tried its finest to get provisional permission to function flights in EU states, the EASA in December prolonged the ban for extra three months and made it clear that it will not be lifted with out the protection audit of the CAA by the aviation watchdog Worldwide Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The suspension was prolonged once more from April for an indefinite interval and EASA linked any improvement with the ICAO’s security audit of the CAA.
Doubts over CAA’s seriousness
The CAA mentioned the ICAO’s go to to Pakistan was earlier scheduled within the first week of July, nevertheless it was postponed as a result of Covid-19 scenario within the nation.
“We are working with ICAO…their visit to Pakistan was planned for July but it was postponed because of (Covid-19) pandemic, etc. We hope their visit would take place somewhere in October or November if the pandemic situation in the country gets improved,” CAA director common Khaqan Murtaza lately informed an internet discussion board.
Aviation sources, nonetheless, solid doubts over the seriousness of the regulator in being audited.
“They [CAA authorities] are still pushing ICAO audit from July last year to December, to March to July, then November  and now we don’t have a tentative date,” mentioned a supply.
“Covid is not the only reason of the audit getting pushed back because during the same period PIA got audited by IATA [International Air Transport Association] and IOSA [IATA Operational Safety Audit]. These are periodic audits that one cannot and should not miss,” the supply added.
Learn: Clipped wings — How Pakistan’s aviation was grounded
Officers mentioned that the CAA didn’t get its biyearly ICAO audit for the previous a few years. “It has been getting it postponed ever since. CAA bosses say that the people who got the last audit conducted were retired without sharing any knowledge. It’s not good for international bodies who demand reforms so that the system is not breached regardless who is at the helm of affairs,” mentioned an official.
Moreover, the sources mentioned, the CAA was not dropping a lot income due to the EASA ban, because the area vacated by PIA was instantly stuffed up by the British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who’re making equal quantity of touchdown/parking fees to the regulator.
Exams outsourcing hits snags
The aviation sources informed Daybreak that the true downside lied within the CAA’s testing and licensing system as the worldwide aviation trade in addition to the ICAO misplaced belief following the aviation minister’s assertion and subsequent investigations into the pretend pilots’ licences saga.
They mentioned the CAA had determined to outsource the conduct of all licensing exams, together with industrial/airline transport pilot licence (CPL/ATPL), to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) to handle the issues of ICAO and EASA.
They mentioned the method was presupposed to be accomplished by April, however until now it had not been finalised. For the previous one yr, all CPL/ATPL assessments remained suspended following the aviation minister’s assertion.
In accordance with the CAA, it’s in session with the UK CAA and attempting to have a framework settlement however it will take two to a few months after signing of the settlement and finding out modalities.
Nonetheless, the sources mentioned the CAA went forward with its outsourcing transfer with out finishing required formalities and now the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) had raised objections on the best way exams had been being outsourced with out following correct procurement procedures.
The sources mentioned that after the pretend licences concern, the CAA as an alternative of rapidly fixing the challenges and popping out clear, first hid behind prosecuting the culprits after which went with out planning and approval of outsourcing the licensing exams.
“A new system development could have done it, but they took nearly a year to decide what to do and then are in a limbo because proper procedures were not followed,” mentioned one other supply.
Ban inflicting enormous income loss
The sources mentioned that PIA has been struggling enormous income losses as a result of EASA curbs for the previous one yr. It has made some options preparations to proceed its flight operations to Europe and the UK through third celebration, nevertheless it couldn’t mitigate the income losses as a result of ban.
A senior PIA official, requesting anonymity, informed Daybreak that the income loss was round Rs17bn through the one-year interval. Nonetheless, the whole loss from the UK and European routes is estimated at round Rs2bn.
The losses might have been better, however the PIA employed a Portuguese agency to maintain on working on the UK and Paris routes with constitution flights.
“We could have never been in this mess had the aviation minister spoken wisely in the parliament a year ago,” lamented a former CAA chief, who requested to not be named.
“He [the minister] said licences of 262 pilots were fake, but the investigations proved that all licences were genuine and the discrepancies were in some written tests that a licensed pilot takes for upgrade. The CAA cancelled licences of 50 pilots and suspended 32 others. This is nowhere near the minister’s figure of 262 pilots,” he mentioned.
Concerning the unpreparedness of the CAA in being audited, he mentioned that the incumbent and former governments selected to run the CAA on an advert hoc foundation as they needed to bifurcate the authority to privatise airports and different property.
“Bringing improvement or even appointment of a dedicated director general was never on their agenda. Hence the mess,” he mentioned.
Printed in Daybreak, July 24th, 2021