Pakistan's aviation industry which has not yet recovered from the fake licence scandal, has now been further

 Pakistan’s aviation industry which has not yet recovered from the fake licence scandal, has now been further hit by another worrying discovery regarding the irregularities in the appointments within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

It has been revealed that the CAA has been involved in mismanagement regarding the appointment for the post of Additional Director Aero Medical, a post that is responsible for declaring commercial pilots “fit” to fly aircraft, meaning that any wrong appointment can lead to concerns regarding pilots’ medical fitness.

The disclosure comes against the backdrop of the 2020 fake fake licences scandal which resulted in European authorities banning the operation of Pakistani airlines in July 2020 after it came to light that pilots possessed “fake” licences, as put by the then-aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar.

The startling revelations came as the aviation minister presented the interim report on the probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 crash that resulted in the deaths of 85 passengers after the plane crashed in Karachi on May 22, 2020.

Last month, sources told Geo News that the PIA will have to further wait to resume its operations in European countries as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended its ban on the national carrier.

The commission, in response to the report submitted by Pakistani officials on May 31, had called on Islamabad to appoint officers with professional qualifications in civil aviation.

With the report revealing that the four-year ban was imposed due to the non-seriousness of the CAA, sources have warned that the non-resumption of flights to European countries may have negative effects on PIA’s privatisation.

Physically unfit officer assessing pilots’ medical fitness

However, it seems that CAA has been rather undeterred and involved in grave irregularities in the key appointment of Additional Director Aero Medical.

It has come to light that the doctor who recently vacated the said office suffered from hearing impairment and was in fact disabled in one ear and was ironically responsible for assessing pilots’s hearing ability.

The doctor was appointed the post on “favouritism” despite the Human Resource (HR) department’s reservations.

Furthermore, CAA sources say that the official was sent abroad and another physically fit doctor was presented in his place before the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) during last year’s audit-related visit to Pakistan.

The CAA has now appointed Dr Ahreema Badar in his place. However, she too is unqualified for the said post as neither she has the required experience nor academic credentials that are recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Moreover, Dr Badar does not possess an Aerospace Medicine Diploma from the country’s sole ICAO-recognised Aero Medical Institute at Karachi’s Pakistan Airforce Base Masroor.

In fact, she has completed her diploma in Aerospace Medicine from a university whose this particular course isn’t recognised by the HEC and the varsity itself has stopped teaching this course after mere two batches.

As reflected by Dr Badar’s resume, she doesn’t have any experience in medical assessment of pilots — in contrast to the ICAO’s mandatory experience requirement.

Sources say that the official doesn’t fulfil the criteria laid out in Document 8984.

Additionally, the CAA, when facing ICAO’s audit-related visit last month, repeated its previous misconduct and presented another lady doctor in place of Dr Badar who has since then resumed her responsibilities as Additional Director Aero Medical.

When inquired about the said issue by Geo News, the CAA officials simply maintained that appointments in the regulatory authority were made purely on merit and that a strict and transparent procedure was followed in appointments which focused on eligibility, experience, skills and suitability of candidates.

The CAA officials further gave no response when asked about Dr Badar’s lack of experience regarding the assessment of pilots.

The startling revelations have not only unearthed harrowing mismanagement within the CAA but have also resulted in serious concerns among the country’s commercial pilots who are worried that the licences of Pakistani pilots might be once again subjected to severe scrutiny and scepticism if the issue comes into the knowledge of international organisations.

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