LAHORE - PIA pilots are being made to fly beyond their duty time limits, putting the passengers’ lives at risk, said well placed sources in CAA.

The airline management has warned that those disobeying the orders will have to face termination, they said. They added that so far 20 pilots have gone beyond Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FDTL), one of them flying for 140 hours a month, because of dearth of pilots. As per FDTL and CAA Rules a pilot can only fly 33 hours per week, 100 per month and 1000 per year, the sources in the Civil Aviation Authority said.

In PIA, monthly hours limit are counted from 1st to the end of the month, but now on the instruction of DFO & CPT Capt Saleem Ahmed the last flight month has been shown in record as starting from 11th of Dec 2015 and ending on 11th of Jan 2016 in order to make maximum pilots’ flight hours fall within the 100 hours limit. In December 2015, from 1st to 31st, B777 Captains & Air Bus 320 Captains crossed 100 hrs limit. All concerned were told not to disclose this fact to anyone with a warning of dismissal from the service.

Sources in CAA said that PIA and CAA monitor the flying hours of the airline pilots but CAA management was not playing its due role in this regard. He said that crew operating on Long Range route of Toronto (with a 14 hours flight time) was also not being given due rest of 48 hours; rather, they have to perform the duty after a rest of 24 hours. Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) union raised voice and some of crew refused to perform extra duty. A pilot of PIA seeking anonymity said that airline was purchasing new aircrafts like B-777 and A-320 but number of pilots was very low.

He said the PIA at present has only 450 pilots against a need for 700 pilots. He demanded in-house simulators of A-320 and ATR for training purposes. PIA has in-house simulator of B-777 only. When contacted, PIA spokesman Danyal Gillani said there was no violation of FDTL and all pilots were flying as per prescribed limitations. He said that 100 flying hours condition is for 30 consecutive days and if a pilot takes rest after duty of few days his month will start after last day of his rest. He said that there was not even a single case of 140 flying hours of a pilot in the PIA. CAA spokesman Pervez George and Pakistan Airline Pilot Association (PALPA) Amir Hashmi were not available to comment, despite repeated efforts to reach them at their cell phones.