Pakistan’s Air Industry and CAA have had a bad 12 months
EASA, IATA, ICAO & EASA repeated negative findings
PIA grounded and country’s economy harmed
Need for preparation for summer ICAO audit
Good news/ bad news became public last week as (1) IATA found the airline (a member of the trade association) found it meeting international standards and then (2) EASA extended its ban on the airlines’ flights to Europe. This dissonance is partially due to these incongruous criteria/standards of these to international organizations. The “scores” would likely been higher if the Government of Pakistan applied the Rupees needed to put the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority in compliance with the global criteria.
NOTE: while the airline is grounded, its losses and the impact on the country’s economy in the loss of tourism and the disconnect with global economy.
Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, almost a year ago, ordered Pakistan International Airlines IMMEDIATELY to address its 6.3B PKR losses a month. This declaration was made after a tragic crash, May 22, 2020, an Airbus A320 plane operating as Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303. Soon thereafter, aviation minister, Ghulam Sarqar Khan, said 262 out of 860 Pakistani pilots had “fake” licenses.
The response by ICAO, EASA and the FAA was unanimous and disastrous to the nation’s jobs in aviation, tourism and beyond. These were not messages to be ignored. Add to that the feedback from EASA on April 7and then IATA on April 8 should compel further improvements with the PCAA –
According to the letter, “In accordance with ART 235(b) of Part-ART, following an initial suspension period of six months, the agency decided to extend this suspension for an additional three-month period. This extended suspension period expired on March 31, 2021.”
It stated, “At this moment, the agency therefore considers that not all conditions required to lift the suspension are met. Hence, according with ART 235(c) (1) of Part-ART, EASA should now revoke the Third Country Operator Authorisation (TCOA).
“However, in view of the ICAO audit of Pakistan planned in summer 20211, the ongoing technical consultations with the PCAA and due to the exceptional circumstances arising from the current Covid-19 crisis and the consequent travel restrictions, EASA opts not to revoke your TCOA but to further extend the suspension period until all necessary information is available to decide on the way forward.”
PIA was instructed, after those restrictions, to get safety registration audits done from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in order to regain international confidence and subsequently resume flights on western routes.
Finally, PIA’s IOSA registration has been successfully renewed and is now valid up to June 23, 2023, according to a statement issued by PIA.
The national carrier has been maintaining IOSA registration since 2005. Every two years IATA conducts an external audit for the renewal of this important safety registration as an IOSA operator with IATA.
Last year, the airline had undergone two verification audits – first one was of limited scope and the second one was a verification audit, a full-scope audit covering flight operations, flight services (cabin operations), quality assurance, safety management, security services, engineering and maintenance, ground handling, flight dispatch and cargo operations, said Khan.
A response to these cumulative criticisms should be a major remedial action focused on the PCAA, business as usual will certainly fail. An aviation minister and the DGAC would be well advised to bring in outside help. While it may seem self-deprecating to ask for help, but the use of a third party will
- provide objective advice,
- have proven policies, procedures and practices which can be quickly “fitted” to PCAA’s environment,
- identify highly qualified candidates for the positions – this distance provides insulation from political advice,
- one of the international tests assesses the legislative structure, primarily “is the CAA free from interference?” An acknowledged expert can deal with the legislators without the concerns of a career or appointed official,
- the ultimate “solution case” involves a number of dependent variables—i.e., with a greater numbers of qualified inspectors, fewer visits to certificate holders may be justified. A consultant can see these connections and work with the CAA through the entire process to observe these cross benefits.
The time between now and the impending ICAO USOAP can be fruitfully used to assure that Pakistan’s aviation connection with international aviation is restored. Aside from commercial motivation, the CAA should receive the proper international respect.
 ICAO’s audit team postpones Pakistan visit amid spike in Covid cases means that this “relief” will be further delayed.
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