ICAO withdraws safety objection after Pakistan pilot scandal

Pakistan grounded 262 airline pilots in June 2020 after they
were suspected of cheating on mandatory licence tests – a scandal that tainted
Pakistan’s aviation industry and its flag carrier, Pakistan International
Airlines (PIA), which European and US aviation regulators barred from there

“It has withdrawn its objection on significant safety
concerns,” a spokesman for Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, Saifullah Khan,
said, referring to the ICAO.

A representative of the ICAO, a UN aviation agency, was not
immediately available for comment.

The scandal came to light following the crash of a PIA plane
in May 2020 in the city of Karachi, in which 97 people were killed.

Pakistani officials accused 262 pilots, a vast majority of
whom were flying commercial aircraft, of having someone else take their
mandatory exams for qualifying as a pilot.

Following the scandal, the ICAO asked Pakistan to undertake
immediate corrective action and suspend the issuing of any new pilot licences.

A nine-member ICAO committee carried out a 10-day audit in
Pakistan, which was concluded in early December.

Pakistan’s aviation authority distributed a statement it
said came from the ICAO stating: “The Committee determined that the actions
taken by Pakistan had successfully resolved significant safety concerns.”

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has said it hoped it
could resume licencing pilots in February.

PIA issued a statement citing chief executive Arshad Malik
as welcoming the ICAO conclusion as a positive development for aviation in
Pakistan, which would pave the way for the resumption of PIA flights to Britain
and the rest of Europe.

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