Around 150 pilots of Pakistan’s PIA airline will be grounded over doubts of cheating on their exams, the company has said. The government broke the news after investigating a deadly crash in Karachi.
More than one-third of pilots working for Pakistan’s flagship carrier PIA could lose their job in a massive cheating scandal. According to the government, pilots both in and outside the airline had other people take their exams in order to keep their flying licenses.
About 150 of PIA’s 434 pilots were carrying “either bogus or suspicious licenses.” PIA spokesman Hafeez Khan told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
“We have decided to ground those 150 pilots with bogus licenses with immediate effect,” he said.
Investigators will also look into possible bribing of officials of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order to maintain the scheme.
The government first broke the news of the scandal on Wednesday, when Pakistan’s aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan presented the results of a probe into a deadly crash in Karachi last month. However, sources quoted by the AP news agency said that PIA knew about the issue since at least two years ago and had fired at least four pilots before over the matter.
On Wednesday, Khan said that a total of 236 Pakistani pilots had “fake” licenses.
The Karachi crash saw PIA pilots fly an Airbus A320 into a residential neighborhood near the airport. The incident killed 97 people on board the plane and one person on the ground, with two passengers managing to survive.