… unless you have at least one First World pilot in the cockpit. That’s been a hard-and-fast rule of mine for decades, and I think it’s one of the reasons I survived living and working in the Third World for as long as I did. I know I’m far from alone in observing that precaution, too. Many of my friends and colleagues did likewise.
More than 30% of civilian pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses and are not qualified to fly, the country’s aviation minister revealed Wednesday.
Addressing Pakistan’s National Assembly, Ghulam Sarwar Khan said 262 pilots in the country “did not take the exam themselves” and had paid someone else to sit it on their behalf.
“They don’t have flying experience,” he said.
Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its domestic airlines — including the country’s Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flagship — as well as a number of foreign carriers, Khan said.
PIA has grounded all its pilots who hold fake licenses, effective immediately.
There’s more at the link.
It’s not just Pakistan. There are incompetent and/or inadequately-trained and/or completely untrained pilots in many Third World countries, where a bribe to the examiner can ensure that you pass written tests and check flights with little or no difficulty. The results are obvious if you examine accident statistics for those countries. The number of accidents put down to “pilot error” is phenomenal – and in many cases it wasn’t error so much as incompetence.
Even pilots who are qualified may not fly in a way that we regard as competent. The number of Third World pilots who “fly a checklist”, heads down in the cockpit, never looking outside to see what’s going on, is astonishingly high. Note, for example, the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco in 2013. The pilots basically flew the aircraft into the ground, because they were too busy with their heads down in the cockpit, not looking where they were going! (Even First World airlines and pilots aren’t immune to such incompetence. Look at the crash of Air France Flight 447, where one pilot constantly held his stick back even as another was trying to push his forward. The conflicting stick inputs meant the aircraft literally fell out of the sky and crashed, because the flight computer couldn’t figure out whose stick to obey.)
That’s why pilots from most Third World nations, coming to the USA to upgrade their licenses, must start the gamut of qualifications all over again, from private pilot, through instrument rating, through commercial license, and only then be allowed to sit for an airline pilot’s rating. I know this causes immense resentment among those of them who really are qualified, and may have thousands of hours flying experience in modern airliners – but they’re hamstrung by the multitude of unqualified, incompetent pilots among them. The US aviation authorities dare not assume that everybody from Nation X or Country Y is, indeed, qualified, because they’ve learned from bitter experience that many of them are not.
Please keep that in mind when you fly overseas. It may save your life.