PIA-PALPA standoff: CAA launches inquiry against 21 pilots

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The PALPA-PIA standoff continues for the seventh day, with countless flights cancelled and billions in losses, but the biggest victims of this fight between the pilots association and the airline are the passengers.

Meanwhile the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has constituted a medical board and has launched an inquiry to examine how 21 pilots of the airline suddenly fell sick at the same time, while the pilots association has decided to take the matter to the international civil aviation.

The medical board has summoned the pilots to appear on the 8th, 12th and 19th of October to ascertain the physical and mental fitness.

PALPA has reacted by approaching the International Civil Aviation Organization to launch a complaint against the CAA.

Captain Sohail Ahmed, the general secretary of the pilots association says in the aviation industry it is considered the pilots duty to inform the aviation authority about ones physical and mental fitness. Citing the air navigation authority section 7.2, Ahmed said if a pilot feels he is not physically or mentally fit then he should not present himself for duty to fly a passenger-laden aircraft.

Since the airline and the pilots association have not been able to reach an agreement, the airline management is now considering acquiring the services of Pakistan Navy pilots and pilots from private airlines.

This could be a possible solution, since majority of the pilots refusing flights are deputed on the ATR turbo-prop aircraft which is also part of the naval fleet as well as the private airline fleets.

However naval pilots holding military flying licenses would first need to sit for and pass the CAA written examination and only then would they be issued commercial flying licenses enabling them to legally fly commercial aircraft.

While private airline pilots would not have to sit for any examination, private airlines operating ATR turbo-prop aircraft and the A320 – another aircraft where PIA is facing pilot shortage – the private airlines do not have surplus pilots to share with the national carrier.

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