ISLAMABAD - A PIA team of experts would meet EASA officials on the coming May 15 in Germany in a supposedly crucial development towards the reinstatement of the safety certification the European aviation body had awarded to Pakistani airline, it is learnt.

According to details, three engineers from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Engineering and Maintenance (E&M) branch would visit European Safety Aviation Agency (EASA) headquarters in Cologne Germany to hold a meeting with the officials concerned at the EASA’s Certification Directorate and Safety Analysis and Research wing.

The PIA engineers’ visit was reportedly scheduled last month but it was postponed till the ongoing month owing to the Cockpit Automation Survey (CAS) report of PIA aircrafts that was pending then. The report is learnt to have been compiled last week and would be presented during the meeting, as per EASA requirement for the licence restoration.

The visit would take place following EASA invitation to PIA through an official letter written in March this year asking the latter to arrange provisions of a tour to the European aviation body headquarters for the reinstatement of the safety certification, “Part 145 Maintenance and Organisational Approval.” This newspaper had unearthed the aforementioned development on March 15, 2011.

Also known as “Part 145 Engineering and Maintenance,” the same safety licence was awarded to PIA by EASA in the year 2004. The European aviation agency had suspended the licence last March on account of PIA’s alleged non-compliance with the EASAs’ aircraft and flight safety standards.  

The PIA’s General Manager Public Relations Syed Sultan Hassan, on contact, confirmed that the meeting was scheduled on May 15. The PIA experts’ team would leave for Germany in the second week of May, he said. “Our team is visiting EASA headquarters on their invitation and we hope that the suspended safety licence would be reinstated once we get to clarify our position.”

While the PIA has not finalised three experts’ names as yet who would represent Pakistani airline in Cologne, the EASA’s Director Certification Norbert Lohl and Deputy Director Strategic Safety John Vincent would lead the aviation body team that would hold deliberations with PIA, it is learnt.

The EASA spokesperson in Cologne, Dominique Fouda, when approached, also confirmed the scheduled event without sharing relevant details. “The matters of professional interest would be discussed in the meeting. It would be premature to elaborate on further details as of now,” he said.  In the light of EASAs’ Safety Analysis and Research procedures, sources said, the PIA’s Cockpit Automation Survey report would be evaluated thoroughly.

The EASA experts from Certification Directorate would evaluate PIA’s aircraft safety standards by examining the airline’s progress on the maintenance of electrical systems, aviation systems, cabin safety, master minimum equipment list (MMEL) and flight stimulation training devices (FSTD).

In addition, the mulled restoration of suspended licence would be reviewed under “EASA Part 145 Commission Regulation (EC) 2042/2003,” while progress on the PIA’s compliance with EASA airworthiness standards would be examined under “Basic Regulations (EC) 216/2008”.

The airworthiness standards reviewing would be based on the EASA’s “Inspection for continued airworthiness and maintenance training,” it is further learnt.

The PIA team, sources shared, would demand reinstatement of the suspended certification citing certain important provisions of the licence agreement that PIA says, EASA had not followed before suspending the licence. These provisions obligate EASA inspectors to conduct PIA field audit thrice every two years while the EASA inspectors have not visited Pakistan since 2004, ever since Pakistan got the aforesaid licence. In 2008, the European aviation body had officially communicated to the PIA that its inspectors could not visit Pakistan due to deteriorated security situation in the country.