CAA responsible for permitting obsolete B737-200s for commercial use

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Boeing 737-100/200 is the first generation of this series of aircraft, which ceased production in 1988. The first aircraft was delivered in 1969 and after 40 years of service, they have been phased out for all types of service within US airspace since March 31, 2008, after US authorities suspended their scheduled operations in 2006, with last flight operated by Aloha Airlines. They continued to fly in Canada, where their scheduled operations were suspended after a crash on August 20, 2011, near Resolute Bay in Nunavit.
The Boeing 737-300 in use by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the second generation of this aircraft, which remained in production until 1999, and this generation extends to B737-400/500. Now it is the Third Generation B737-600/700/800 aircraft which are being produced.
B737-200 is being used in Asia and Africa by non-scheduled airlines. Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), dominated by retired officers of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and army aviation allowed Shaheen Airlines owned by PAF’s Shaheen Foundation to operate these aged aircraft without proper verification of airworthiness status, as it does not have the technical capability and the independently employed personnel to carry out detailed boroscopic inspection of aircraft hull, fuselage, landing gears and engines.
The CAA permitted Bhoja Air to operate these Boeing 737-200s despite the airline previous track record and the controversy surrounding its CEO Arshad Jalil, who owns a maintenance provider company. Although the CAA is a profitable state-owned corporation with billions of rupees in reserve cash flow, it continues to rely on the expertise of officials on deputation from airlines that the CAA is required to regulate – a flagrant violation of the basic principles of Conflict of Interest. The CAA, instead of focusing on commercial corporate interests and ventures, should have given priority to its basic objective and regulatory function to ensure that flight safety was not compromised by any airline operator.
The authority must invest in procuring latest radar, navigational and landing guidance systems, and train its manpower besides hiring trained experts from the market pilots, rather than relying on the officials on deputation who are on its payroll, and becoming a “welfare job providing body” for retired military officers and political nominees.
Unfortunately, the CAA’s profitability and vast revenue potential has become its biggest curse. After having caught between the two lobbies, retired military personnel and political nominees, the future of Pakistan’s aviation industry looks doomed unless immediate corrective measures are not taken.
For instance, all major CAA-managed civil airports have been declared dangerous for bird hazard, because the CAA, in collusion with the Cantonment Board and army welfare projects, has failed to ensure a sterile zone around the periphery of all airports. The difference between the experience of military aviation and commercial aviation is as vast as the difference between an animal husbandry doctor and an oncologist or a cardiologist. Commercial aviation is a highly regulated service industry subject to ICAO rules and regulatory controls of the state of registry and regulatory bodies of all countries where the airline lands or flies, apart from meeting passenger needs, comfort and maintaining published schedules.
Military aviation is a security apparatus subject solely to the chain of command for all operations within the country’s airspace.
If this present state of affairs continues, the national aviation industry will meet the fate of Pakistan Railways, or even worse, sink to the role played by the country’s motor vehicle inspectors whose performance is obvious in the messy road transport system. A cursory review of the senior executives of the CAA will reveal that the authority is dominated by mediocrity, as a close relative of a VVIP was appointed as the CFO to the DGCA, who was an old classmate of the same VVIP, besides the presence of nominees of the prime minister and retired military officers and bureaucrats.
The least that the CAA and this government owes to the unfortunate victims of Bhoja and Air Blue, or the travelling public, whose taxes fill their coffers, is to conduct an independent investigation by an Accident Investigation Unit, which should not be under the administrative control of both the Defence Ministry and the CAA. Both of them under this prevailing system are involved in granting permission for AOC to airlines that operate within Pakistan and they own and manage all airports as well as the equipment installed there, including air traffic control (ATC) and ground control, weather radars, and all other advisory and warning systems in use by airlines that in case of malfunction or mishandling can lead to an accident. Nobody to date has been punished or penalised for the criminal act of installing passenger seats against the emergency exit of an aircraft owned by Shaheen Airlines.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is unfortunate for the Nation that comments are coming from those who know nothing or too less about aviation. Every TV host has opens a court in the evening, invites irrelevant guests and decides within one hour. There is complete process which decides that an aircraft is fly worthy or not. Our aircraft are going to international destinations, are foreign countries also fool that they allow non air worthy plane into their airspace……..? Our print and electronic media creating a hype and damaging nation's repute and economy (may be un-knowingly).

  2. This article highlights the root cause of incompetence, corruption and degradation of minimum standards required to run a department successfully. Needless to say that CAA cannot ensure the safety checks of private Air carriers at required International Standards. In recent past European Countries banned PIA, from entering their Air Space because of safety concerns. Blaming the electronic media for ignorance in such matters is not going to help, we must accept the fact that by compromising standards, discouraging merit, encouraging the Quota system and assigning key positions in every Institution in Pakistan on personal likes and dislikes, we have rather invited such tragedies at all levels and in every Institution.

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