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International civil aviation body advises Pakistan to suspend issuance of new pilot licenses


New Delhi: The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has advised Pakistan to take “immediate corrective actions” and suspend the issuance of any new pilot licenses following the scandal over false licenses, according to reports.

The recommendations from ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that works to ensure safety in international air transport, come days after Pakistan opened a criminal probe into 50 pilots and five civil aviation officials who allegedly helped them falsify credentials to secure pilot licences, according to a Reuters report.

“Pakistan should improve and strengthen its licensing system to ensure that it takes into account all necessary processes and procedures and prevents inconsistencies and malpractices before new licenses are issued and privileges of suspended licenses are re-established,” said ICAO, in a recent letter to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).

A Pakistani aviation ministry official told Reuters that the country has not issued any new licenses since July, in the wake of the scandal. The Montreal-based agency’s recommendations come ahead of an ICAO audit to assess the country‘s aviation safety management Systems, according to Reuters.

The pilot scandal has tainted Pakistan’s aviation industry and adversely impacted Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which has been banned from flying into Europe and the United States. Pakistan had to suspend another 32 pilots for a year.

Malaysia, Pakistan’s closest ally in SE Asia, in July temporarily suspended pilots employed by its airlines who hold Pakistani licences, after Islamabad revealed that many pilots had dubious qualifications. Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has admitted that 262 out of 860 Pakistani pilots had “fake” licenses.

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