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Irregularities in CAA appointments come to light

KARACHI: Pakistan's aviation industry, still reeling from the fake license scandal, has been struck by another alarming discovery regarding irregularities in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) appointments.

It has come to light that the CAA has engaged in mismanagement concerning the appointment for the role of Additional Director Aero Medical. This position is critical as it involves certifying commercial pilots as medically “fit” to operate aircraft, making any improper appointment a serious concern for pilot medical fitness.

This revelation follows the 2020 fake license scandal, which led to European authorities banning Pakistani airlines in July 2020 after it was revealed that pilots held “fake” licenses, according to then-aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar.

The startling news emerged as the aviation minister presented an interim report on the probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 crash, which resulted in the deaths of 85 passengers after crashing in Karachi on May 22, 2020.

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

The commission, responding to a report submitted by Pakistani officials on May 31, urged Islamabad to appoint professionally qualified officers in civil aviation.

The report revealed that the four-year ban was imposed due to CAA’s non-seriousness, and sources warned that the continued suspension of flights to European countries could negatively impact PIA’s privatization.

**Physically Unfit Officer Assessing Pilots’ Medical Fitness**

Despite this, the CAA has continued to engage in significant irregularities in the key appointment of Additional Director Aero Medical. It was revealed that the previous officeholder had a hearing impairment and was responsible for assessing pilots’ hearing ability. The doctor, appointed due to favoritism despite HR department reservations, was later replaced for an audit-related visit by a physically fit doctor.

Dr. Ahreema Badar has now been appointed in this role, but she is also unqualified, lacking both the necessary experience and academic credentials recognized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Dr. Badar does not have an Aerospace Medicine Diploma from Pakistan’s sole ICAO-recognized Aero Medical Institute at Karachi’s Pakistan Airforce Base Masroor. Instead, she holds a diploma from an unrecognized university that has since discontinued the course.

Dr. Badar’s resume indicates no experience in pilot medical assessments, contrary to ICAO’s mandatory experience requirements. Sources claim she does not meet the criteria outlined in Document 8984.

During ICAO’s audit visit last month, the CAA repeated previous misconduct by presenting another doctor in place of Dr. Badar, who has since resumed her responsibilities as Additional Director Aero Medical.

When questioned by Geo News, CAA officials asserted that appointments within the regulatory authority were made on merit, following strict and transparent procedures focusing on eligibility, experience, skills, and suitability. However, they did not respond to inquiries about Dr. Badar’s lack of relevant experience.

These revelations have exposed significant mismanagement within the CAA and raised serious concerns among the country’s commercial pilots. There is growing worry that Pakistani pilots’ licenses might again face intense scrutiny and skepticism if international organizations become aware of these issues.

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