The crash of PIA ATR flight PK661 has raised eyebrows about flight safety standards in Pakistan. I have received some details that must be shared. How far they are true has to be probed by the media and the investigators. Rarely does the hammer go to the top in Pakistan. It always falls on the small people. In train disasters it is the signalman and in plane crashes it is either the weather or the dead pilot who can say nothing in their defence (Dr Arif Alvi)
Notes from the Whistleblower ....
- Primary job of maintaining surveillance of training activities and professional competence of pilots is entrusted to CAA's FLIGHT STANDARDS DIRECTORATE. It is to be headed by a DIRECTOR FLIGHT STANDARDS (DFS) who has a team of FLIGHT INSPECTORS who perform these surveillance and monitoring activities.
- There is no Director of this most important Directorate for the last five years. Due to lack of understanding of the top brass of CAA and its Chief of HR regarding the vital importance of Flight Standards Directorate, no efforts have been made to appoint a qualified DFS. Any Flight Inspector is chosen and given charge as Acting DFS. Presently, a Flight Inspector of small aeroplanes Arif Majeed is working as DFS. He is 65 years of age and has not even flown any aeroplane for the last 4 years. In connivance with Chief of HR, and to remain acting DFS himself, he has raised the requirement of hiring of DFS so high that nobody qualifies for the position.
- There was only ONE Flight Inspector for last more than a year (Arif Majeed) who is also working as Acting DFS. So there has been practically no surveillance or safety related monitoring of pilots of any airline. Arif Majeed stays abroad most of the time. Recently CAA inducted Flight Inspectors but they are untrained and do not qualify to perform duties of Qualified Flight Inspectors. There is not a single QUALIFIED FLIGHT INSPECTOR in CAA even today. CAA has made no arrangements to train them to perform their task. CAA has failed in its task of observing / regulating the competence level of pilots.
- Pilot induction is on QUOTA SYSTEM and absence of proper and competent staffing in CAA FLIGHT STANDARDS DIRECTORATE will unfortunately lead to more incidents like this and is a matter of PUBLIC IMPORTANCE which needs to be highlighted at every forum to avoid further loss of lives.
- CAA has very qualified Engineers to keep a check on maintenance of all aeroplanes flying in Pakistan, but has failed to realise the importance of maintaining a check on pilots who actually fly these aeroplanes, and on whose professional competence the safety of air travellers is dependant.
- A sensitive issue is as follows: CAA is the regulatory body entrusted with the task of surveillance and oversight of all commercial flying activities. Its top brass is all from the air force who have little experience of commercial flying, and therefore less understanding of the stringent requirements of law enforcement on airlines primarily to ensure safety of travelling public. DG CAA, Additional DG CAA are Air Marshals who have never flown a commercial plane. In the aviation departments the world over such posts require more than 20 years of commercial flying experience. Secretary Aviation is also a military pilot who had last flew a military aeroplane about 30 years ago.
The writer of this blog calls himself PIA Eye Opener