KARACHI: A couple of weeks ago, a senior pilot on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight (PK-785) travelling from Islamabad to London handed over the aircraft to an under-training pilot some time after the take-off while he caught up on a two-and-a-half-hour nap in the passenger compartment. The action was a direct compromise to air safety while also putting lives of over 305 passengers at stake.
As per the sources, PIA was initially not willing to take action against the senior pilot, Amir Akhtar Hashmi, who was also the former president of the highly influential Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association (PALPA), but later had to give in to the “pressure from above”.
PIA spokesperson Danyal Gilani while talking to media sources stated that Capt Amir Hashmi was off from flying duty due to the ongoing investigation. No further details were shared in this regard.
Sources are reported to have said that on April 26, 2017, Hashmi was the flight in charge for PK-785 travelling to London along with first officer Ali Hassan Yazdani. Another first officer, Mohammad Asad Ali, who was currently under training, was also present in the cockpit. Hashmi, an instructor, who draws Rs 100,000 monthly to train pilots, instead of training Ali during the flight went for a quick lie-down.
Sources also stated that the flight was carrying over 305 passengers — 293 in the economy class and 12 in the club class. During the journey, Hashmi left the flight control with Ali, while the regular first officer, Yazdani, sat in the observer’s seat in the cockpit.
Sources further added that the issue would have remained unnoticed if a passenger hadn’t seen the uniformed pilot sleeping. Upon learning about who he was, the passenger raised a hue and cry which led to the senior purser (air hostess) to lodge a complaint against the pilot in her flight log.
As per the sources, senior purser Nazneen Haider’s report stated that “Passenger (Seat 1 D) complained that while the captain was sleeping in business class cabin, I (the passenger) do not feel safe. It had been explained that two other crew members were in the cockpit but he said that he would follow the matter and write down a complaint card as well.”
In order to protect Hashmi, both the first officers did not report the incident to the management.
Although initially, PIA was reluctant to carry out an inquiry into the incident but later had to given to the pressure from the concerned ministry higher-ups in Islamabad. Hashmi has been taken off flight duty while the investigation is in process.