Is Civil Aviation Authority Really Functional?

Is Civil Aviation Authority Really Functional?

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With rescue teams yet to canvass the entire crash site and complete number of bodies yet to be collected, with the black-box yet to be discovered and reason of crash yet to be ascertained and not ruling out any chance of terrorist activity. It was the supernatural power of PIA’s Chairman that had informed him within hours of the crash that it had nothing to do with machine error.

Mr. Azam Saigol, Chairman PIA, along with other senior high ups of PIA and CAA conducted a presser late evening declaring all on board dead and ruled out any chance of human and or machine fault. We have a very simple question to ask, how can you be so sure this early?

Normally a plane crash probe takes months and a final report is only prepared after being investigated from all angles. The investigation is driven on the readings obtained from the black box while taking into account eye-witnesses and first responder reports. Mr. Saigol, during his press conference had none of the above. Not to ignore is the fact that at the time of crash the weather conditions were favorable and hence any chance of external turbulence gets ruled out.

The information below makes severe revelations. This, however, needs to be verified by reliable resources.

The main regulator for aviation in Pakistan happens to be CAA’s Flight Standards Directorate. The wing is responsible for maintaining surveillance of training activities and professional competence of pilots. A team of trained flight inspectors working under the directorate are required to perform surveillance and monitoring activities.

  1. As reported, there is no Director of this most important wing for the last five years. The failure of filling such an important post is because of organizational tussle between top CAA management and its Chief of HR. An acting Director is hence running the affairs. In all irony, the said individual is of 65 years of age and has not flown for the last 4 years. It is believed that the acting-DFS and the Chief of HR have put in such stringent requirements for the post that no one qualifies.
  2. The acting-DFS is for now the only trained flight inspector. A recent round of induction saw multiple individuals being selected as flight inspectors but a formal training is yet to be imparted. CAA has made no arrangements to train them to perform their task and has failed in its task of observing / regulating the competence level of pilots.
  3. The position of engineering department though remains satisfactory as CAA has sufficient numbers of qualified engineers who keep a check on maintenance of all airplanes flying in Pakistan. Had the situation been same for pilots with similar practices and standards being maintained a lot could have been avoided.
  4. The CAA happens to be a civilian organization, as it is responsible for surveillance and oversight of all commercial flying activities. Unfortunately the CAA is currently being run by people from Pakistan Airforce. In the aviation departments, all over the world such positions require adequate ‘commercial’ flying experience that lacks in the case of CAA.

Pakistan has a serious history of air crashes. Inquiries and probe only happen behind closed doors and the nation is yet to hear about any successful air crash investigation, let alone punishing those responsible. The haste displayed by Chairman PIA speaks of organizational callousness. It is hoped that those responsible will be taken to task and it will be ensured that such incidents are avoided in future.

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