The police registered a case on Sunday under the anti-terrorism act, against the pilot of the Shaheen Air flight that crash landed in Lahore on Nov 3. The crash landing injured at least ten people. The damage could have been much worse as the pilot of the aircraft was not only fatigued but was also under the influence of alcohol, the acting director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told sources.

It is about time that lapses in security of passengers are punished with the seriousness that it deserves. In the past few years, two major crashes involving planes owned by private airliners have highlighted the lenient attitudes in Pakistan towards passenger safety. Earlier this year a highly influential pilot of Pakistan International Airlines caused a serious air safety hazard when he operated a Trans-Atlantic long haul flight without mandatory rest, putting the lives of over 350 passengers to unnecessary risk.

The recent crash of the no-frills German wings jetliner reminded us that we should refrain from carelessly determining the cause of the crash. But it does seem beyond doubt that the co-pilot was ill, and that he deliberately put the jetliner into rapid descent after he locked himself in the cockpit. The question is why was he allowed to go on crew duty in the first place? The mental and physical health of pilots and crew members is of utmost importance; when airlines all over the world are aware of this, then why is Pakistan lagging behind?

The aviation authorities should enhance its oversight of airlines' management of the health of their crew, and that studies should be done to introduce a system for managing the fatigue risk of crew members. The safety and peace of mind of airline passenger must be fully guaranteed, and this must definitely take precedence over the lax attitude adopted where airline crew in concerned. They must bear firmly in mind that no safety measure is any use once an accident has occurred.