Vietnam grounds 27 Pakistani pilots over license concerns

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Following the investigation of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) that revealed an alarming number of dubious licenses, 27 Pakistani pilots working for Vietnamese airlines were suspended.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) conducted an evaluation of all foreign pilots operating on its soil after its counterpart in Pakistan revealed that about one-third of Pakistani pilots operated using irregular licenses and degrees.

The census found that 1,223 foreign nationals operated as pilots in the country, out of which 27 Pakistani citizens. 12 Pakistani pilots had active contracts (11 with Vietjet Air and 1 with Jetstar Pacific) while 15 had expired, some of them due to the coronavirus pandemic. Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways did not employ any Pakistani pilots.

“The head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has ordered a suspension for all Pakistani pilots working for Vietnamese airlines, asking carriers to temporarily not assign flight schedules to the pilots until further notice,” the authority said in a statement on June 29, 2020. The records of the 27 pilots will be reviewed in cooperation with the PCAA. The CAAV notes that no case of a Pakistani pilot involved in a flight safety incident or threat was ever recorded in Vietnam.

A systemic problem in Pakistan

The PCAA investigation showed that 262 out of 860 active Pakistani pilots had not sat the pilot exams themselves. In total, 40% of pilots, including inactive ones, held “fake” licenses. It led the country’s flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, to suspend 150 of its 426 pilots over “questionable” certificates.

The result of the investigation was revealed on the same day as the preliminary report into the PK8303 crash, which blames the flight crew and the air traffic controllers for the accident that killed 97 people on May 22, 2020. “Captain and first officer were adequately qualified and experienced to undertake the said flight”, the report stated. However, their records and documents are currently being reviewed.


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