The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan is meeting with the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the potential removal of a flight ban on national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Negotiations are scheduled to take place on October 25, 2022, according to Pakistan news channel Samaa. The delegation of Pakistan CAA, which includes the deputy director general as well as other leaders of the authority, will meet officials of the European Commission to report on measures the authority has taken to improve the level of operational safety.
The Pakistan regulator aims to highlight the work done to pass an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit, in the hope that its airlines will regain permission to fly.
Why is PIA banned from flying in Europe?
PIA was added to the EU Air Safety List in July 2020, meaning the airline is suspended from operating in the European Union, due to safety concerns after the pilot license scandal and the crash of PIA PK8303 in Karachi.
The pilot license scandal erupted following the preliminary report into the PK8303 crash, which killed 97 people on May 22, 2020. The Airbus A320 touched down without the landing gear deployed. The crew attempted a go-around but the engines sustained damage and then failed, with the aircraft crashing short of the runway. Crew action was cited as a factor in the crash.
An investigation by Pakistan’s CAA revealed that 262 out of 860 active Pakistani pilots had cheated during mandatory pilot exams and did not actually attend them.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom followed Europe’s example and banned the airline from operating in their airspace.
In January 2022, ICAO announced the results of a 10-day safety audit, where it confirmed that the Pakistan CAA had resolved a safety concern that resulted from a 2020 scandal regarding the fake pilot licenses. At the time, ICAO said its validation committee reviewed the action taken by Pakistan to address the Significant Safety Concern (SCC) and determined that actions taken by Pakistan’s CAA had successfully resolved the issued SCC.
The Samaa report said that the European Commission will visit Pakistan in 2023 to review the steps taken.