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EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines' European authorisation (reuters.com)
285 points by 8bitsrule 42 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 162 comments



The article makes only a passing reference to the recent crash, but serious pilot error ("incompetence on an astonishing scale" might be a better phrase than "error") appears to be a major factor in it. http://avherald.com/h?article=4d7a6e9a&opt=0


The fact that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots are known to have a fake license might have something to do with it. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/nearly-a-third-of-pakis...


This was very overblown in the media. The issue was with re-certifications after changes to regulations in 2012, with most pilots (many with decades of experience) apparently preferring a bribe rather than cramming for months for the re-certification exam.

Still bad but it's not just random people off the street flying 777s.


> many with decades of experience

The article says that’s not the case.

> He added those pilots “don’t have flying experience.”


this assumes that their previous certifications were legit. now it might be the case that previously all certificate were given out properly and come 2012 corruption ramped 0 to 30% in a day, but I find that unlikely.


There is a reason why experience alone is not enough, and a big part is that serious emergencies are rare, so experience does not indicate preparedness.

Furthermore, an environment where bribery is common practice raises doubts about everything.


1 of every 3 pilots have a fake license in Pakistan. It's mind blowing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2020/06/26/30-of-...


Worth noting that Forbes.com/sites/ are basically blog posts and not the same as de-facto Forbes.com


Yeah, probably should've posted another link but the first one was from a news site I don't like and I didn't want to give them visits so I picked the next one.

Anyway, Duck it and you will see it on several other sites.


This was awful to read. The control tower repeatedly warned them about their trajectory, and even advised them to discontinue the approach. I can't even imagine how awful it must've been to those aboard who placed their trust in the pilots.


In my opinion, ATC is also culpable (though much less so). They could have and should have ordered a go around, but instead, they re-cleared the airplane to land.


That's not how ATC works. The tower controller is responsible for the runway environment. The only reason they can tell a plane to go around is if there is a traffic conflict or the runway is not available, and they're supposed to give the pilots a reason for the go around instruction.

A go around for an unstable approach is 100% the decision of the pilots, because they have the complete picture. They also know the stability requirements of the operator and speed limits of the plane, ATC doesn't know those.

So while ATC can think "wow he is very fast for an A320" or "that looks too high" they cannot see what the actual airspeed is, they cannot see whether the gear is down or not or what the flap settings are. And they don't know the speed limits for each specific type. All they know is roughly how fast the typical plane of that type normally goes.


One of the truly astonishing parts of this report is that the pilots do not actually appear to have been in direct contact with the tower controller at any point during the initial, gear-up landing.

If you read the report, it seems they were in contact with the approach controller who contacted the tower for landing clearance on their behalf.


If the controller thought they were having an emergency (which I guess he did based on the strange approach and all the warning sounds he heard on the radios) it's not that uncommon to hold on to them. Happens because it reduces crew workload if he's not telling them a new frequency.

Tower and approach have a button to talk directly in each other's headsets, so it's easy for approach to give you a landing clearance on behalf of the tower. Or the other way around, tower could get you radar instructions from approach in case you have a problem right after take off and want to return immediately.

But in this case it was a very bad decision to do that.


While you're probably right apparently the tower didn't tell the pilots that they saw a fire/sparks on the plane when it hit the pavement. Not that the pilots were listening anyway.


The final authority in flying an airplane safely is always in the hands of the pilot. The pilot is always responsible. ATC may not have all the information, not know specifics of the aircraft or this specific flight. It is just not practical to have procedures where the ATC is the final authority for every single flight, with all the various different airplanes, so the pilot always is.


Exactly as Erlich_Bachman wrote. Also want to add one more reason: The pilot's neck is always on the line, while the ATC usually won't get physically hurt. The incentives are better aligned if it's the pilot who has final authority.


Sure, the pilot is the final authority. If it is unsafe, the pilot should declare an emergency, and ATC must get out of the way. Otherwise, if ATC says, "go around," the pilot should go around. And in this case, ATC should have said, "Go around."


"Aviate, Navigate, Communicate". https://pea.com/blog/posts/6-pilot-rules-that-everyone-shoul...

This is an aviation rule that everyone lives by. There are many reasons for why that is the most sane and sensible approach to this problem, in addition to what is mentioned, the pilot's attention span is always under attack from various events that they have to correctly and swiftly respond to. This does not happen sometimes, this happens all the time during flight. Everyone has to be prepared for it. It is part of the job. You have to train for it, you have to prepare for your attention to be overflown, and you still have to make the most important decisions even under those conditions.

And this has an important consequence: ATC is at the end of that list ("communicate"). They are at the bottom of the attention span chain of the pilot, and it is better for everyone if ATC knows this and acts like it. In other words, leaves the final decision to the pilot.


I understand your point, and it is entirely possible that the accident would have played out exactly as it did even if the ATC performance was impeccable. However, ATC performance was not impeccable. The preliminary report indicates they did not follow established procedures. In my opinion, because the aircraft did not follow the published approach, landing clearance should not have been given. They weren't even talking to the tower controller, but to approach. Why weren't they switched over? Not enough time? They should have been told to go around. If the pilots still attempted to land then it is on them.

Please don't get me wrong. The pilots bear the majority of the responsibility. But it does not sound to me like ATC did their job properly, either.


> If the pilots still attempted to land then it is on them.

It is on them regardless. ATC performed badly, and it blew one or two chances to say something that might have saved the day, but it was the pilots who actually caused the accident, through their own free choices of action - nothing that ATC did influenced their decision-making (quite the opposite, in fact.) ATC deserves criticism and blame, but it is different in kind to that which belongs to the pilots.


Pilots have trained for years on flying in general and the specific performance characteristics of their aircraft.

Controllers on the other hand has years of training about traffic patterns, communications, managing airspace, etc. Most controllers are not pilots, although a significant number are, even those are not likely to be flying around A320s recreationally. Needless to say they deal with thousands of types of aircraft every day and may have only general ideas of how those aircraft may perform.

So, who is in a really good position to quickly know what the critical speeds in a landing are?


The accident report confirms that neither the pilots nor controllers followed established procedures. This is not simply my idle speculation. The plane was not on the proper published approach for the airport. The controller attempted to give vectors to the aircraft to give it room to descend. The pilot declined to follow the instructions (possible violation). At this point, in my opinion, the controller should have said, "go around." Instead, the controller said, "cleared to land."

Yes, the pilot is in control of the aircraft, but unless and until an emergency is declared, ATC is in control of the airspace, and the pilots should obey any safe command.

Don't get me wrong, the pilots bear the majority of the responsibility, but ATC did not do their job properly, either.


The pilots busted their approach clearance. ATC could certainly have rescinded their landing clearance and ordered a go-around.

That said, ATC's responsibility is to keep planes from hitting each other and maintain an orderly flow of aircraft. They are not any way responsible for the safety of the flight. That is what the second pilot and all of the automated alarms are for. The crew just ignored all of them.

It takes a basic standard of professionalism to fly a jet airliner, and unfortunately neither of the crew members on this flight had it. The approach was so bad that they were above the maximum gear extension speed when they tried to put the gear down, and so the Airbus refused to do it, and continuously yelled at them that it was doing this, but somehow they failed to notice.

Monitoring airspeed on approach is about the most basic thing a pilot does, and if you're off on speed and/or altitude by much less than these guys were, the absolutely clear requirement is to go around and try again (before you slam the engines on the ground and destroy them).


So, having twice ignored the ATC instruction to turn left to 180 away from the approach, you think there is a good reason to believe they would've heeded a direction to go around?

If ATC is to blame in this, it is primarily in excessive deference to the PIC.


No I don't think there is a good reason to believe they would have heeded a direction to go around. That doesn't mean that the direction should not have been given.

If ATC is to blame in this, it is primarily in excessive deference to the PIC.

My point, exactly, though it sounds like there may have been other irregularities in the procedures followed.


> reporting they had lost both engines (CFM56) and repeatedly declaring Mayday about 5 minutes after the go around, the RAT (RAM Air Turbine) deployed. Tower cleared the aircraft to land on either runway 25 (25L or 25R)

ATC should have said "go around" to a plane with no functioning engines?


I think you misread the dynamic of the incident. The pilots were in an unstabilized approach, didn't go around, landed with landing gear up and applied reverse trust, at which point they figured all those sparks were not supposed to be flying around, brilliantly decided to go around and pressed the TOGA switches. Surprisingly the plane was not able to complete the go around, lost both engines, and crashed. This is the stuff of nightmares.


That occurred long after the point I am referring to.


"ATC should have ordered a go around" implies some authority that is not there. The commander (captain) has final responsibility for the safety of the aircraft. ATC effectively has an advisory role; they issue instructions rather than orders and the commander can ignore any ATC instruction if they believe it to be necessary for the safe performance of the flight.


What do you mean? If I approach KORD in my Cessna 172 (as I've done), and ATC instructs me to go around, I would. Of course the pilot is the ultimate authority and can deviate from any instruction in an emergency, but ATC can, in my understanding, instruct an aircraft to go around for any number of reasons that the pilot of the aircraft is not privy to.

In this case, according to the preliminary report, `“Karachi Approach” advised repeatedly (twice to discontinue the approach`. Had the cowboy pilots followed that instruction, the unnecessary deaths might have been avoided.


Yes, they can instruct. They don't issue orders, though. In your example, as the commander of your aircraft, if you felt that going around would compromise the safety of your flight (unlikely, but you can imagine some scenarios), you can and should disregard the instruction.


I think we're on the same page.

In the case here, approach instructed them to abort the approach, and the pilots should have. Well, they paid the ultimate price for their mistakes, taking many people with them.


Perhaps, "order" was the wrong word, but ATC absolutely has authority over the airspace unless and until an emergency is declared.


That’s not how ATC works - atc ALREADY went beyond what you normally see w their suggestions for a go around. ATC is focused on traffic (keeping it separated), pilots are in charge of flying their planes. In fact communicating with ATC is low on list of things to do when their are problems. Priority is aviate, navigate then communicate. And these controllers went above and beyond w their warnings already


The accident report indicates that ATC also didn't follow procedures, so no, ATC did not go above and beyond.

The main criticism in the report seems to be that they did not report the lack of landing gear or the subsequent engine strike back to the aircraft.

My criticism, having listened to some of the recording, is that ATC were not more insistent in their instructions. Every other ATC recording I've listened to, ATC instructs and pilots obey. In the rare cases where pilots disobey without immediate good reason, ATC usually gets quite heated. They don't generally just acquiesce.

So, don't get me wrong, the pilots bear the majority of the responsibility, but pilots and ATC are a team, and ATC didn't do a great job either.


ATC get's bothered if you put other planes / people at risk (entering class B airspace without clearance, not maintaining separation etc etc). That is ATC responsibility. And yes, they will punish you with a notice of pilot deviation and then action on your license.

They don't bother you in terms of how you fly your own plane. That's captains responsibility in the US at least. The controller was getting into the go around game here (too high / too fast stuff). The CAPTAIN is supposed to monitor and establish the stabilized approach.


The crew was never in contact with the tower controller that was in a position to see that gear were not down, or that the aircraft had landed on its engines.

For reasons that are not clearly explained (probably everything happening too fast and muddled), they remained in contact with approach during the landing after the approach controller got their landing clearance from tower on the phone.

Tower did report the gear-up landing to approach, but approach did not relay to the crew.


Yes, it sure sounds like things got screwed up. Which is my entire point in this surprisingly controversial thread.


If this doesn't apply to the UK as well, it is not enough. I would like to see a flyover ban as well, as PIA flies through the EU to the UK.

I'm following the aviation industry closely and there are plenty of reports every now and then where PIA flights don't respond on radio anymore, triggering fighter intercepts. It is assumed that those pilots are oftentimes either sleeping or just don't bother because of their ego, which was built in their former careers as military pilots.

I don't want to have PIA planes crashing into others or falling on my head.


Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.

“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-airlines-eu/eu-s...


> triggering fighter intercepts

Also this costs tax money. Why spend the money on intercepts when you can ban the people causing the problems?


Only on paper. Let's face it if the pilots weren't flying intercepts they'd need to be flying training missions. Anyway, the sunk cost of buying, maintaining and operating fighter jets is so high that the marginal cost of a mission is a bit of a wash.


>Let's face it if the pilots weren't flying intercepts they'd need to be flying training missions

Is this really the case? Are there training missions 24/7? If not, does flying an intercept cause a future training mission to be canceled?


I dont think this nitpicking achieves anything, his overall point stands - we have hundreds of military jets and pilots with fuck all to do (fortunately). How many intercepts are there, one every few months? It makes no material difference against the backdrop of training and eqipment used in a regular business as usual.


> I dont think this nitpicking achieves anything, his overall point stands - we have hundreds of military jets and pilots with fuck all to do (fortunately). How many intercepts are there, one every few months? It makes no material difference against the backdrop of training and eqipment used in a regular business as usual.

Maybe stores should stop hiring security guards in towns where the police don't have much to do. The cops are just sitting around anyway, right?


Cops don't have to make flight hours, fighter pilots do.


If police had the same kind of rigorous training and process the military does this mess in the USA probably wouldn't have happened.


This whole line of argument does not make sence - the whole debacle is about safety, not money.

Why do you believe the current training and safety regime is economically optimal? It is possible that having more cheaper airplanes and pilots that crash a little more often would be better for economy!


I'm not sure how the military work when it comes to currency requirements. For private and commercial pilots it's certainly the case that they sometimes have to conduct flights (or at least, conduct specific procedures) purely for the sake of maintaining currency. I would be surprised if the same concept didn't apply broadly.

It's not quite as strong as because you flew that mission we are cancelling that training session, more because you flew that mission you don't need be booked out on a training session.


Pretty much. They're on alert 24/7 anyway, and training is mostly to get a specific number of hours. There are likely cases where an intercept adds to monthly flight hours, but it's not a big impact overall.


No, but if you need to flow so many hours per month to maintain currency, flying a mission still counts towards that. So every hour spent flying a mission is an hour that doesn’t need to be spent flying to maintain currency.


At least in Germany they tend to do a lunch break which is great if you want to use their airspace to test some research equipment. (You don't get told their schedule, only whether it's in use, but if it is it usually works out to sit on the runway with your plane at ~13h and wait for them to take the break.)


Not to sound too harsh, but I’m pretty sure many country would rather blast those planes with rockets than wait them to do any harm, just talking knowing how it works in my country, Italy, and all the counter rocket facility deployed on our borders. I’m just saying that because i have no info what’s the deal with other countries


>I don't want to have PIA planes crashing into others or falling on my head.

Even with sleeping pilots, you still are order of magnitude more likely to die by a car than by a plane.


I guess that's technically correct, but it seems a little pointless; with sufficient negligence, accidents are a virtual certainty, and those who come to harm in such an event would find little solace in that knowledge.

In that sense, I don't want PIA planes falling on my own or anyone else's head, land, or property, anywhere in the world.

There's no reason to allow pilots and airlines to behave like that, and lots of reasons to sanction them very harshly if they do. After all, who's to believe they're current on their maintenance if they can't even make sure pilots respond when hailed?


I think the real danger is to passengers of the plane. It is very rare for a plane crash to kill anyone on the ground.

Noth of earth surface is not cities, its water/farmland/etc


More common than you'd think as most crashes are on takeoff or landing, which tend to be in more built up areas.


We are discussing high altitude flyovers here.


Exceptionally unlikey a pilot would be able to crash a plane at 30,000 foot. Far more likely that a medical emergency would lead to a pilot landing at an unfamiliar airport and crashing the plane into block of houses.


Scenario: inexperienced/bad pilot misjudges fuel consumption (badly manages energy / height transitions) and requires emergency landing somewhere in EU because it cannot reach London


And it’s regulatory actions like this that ensure that air travel is safe.


And doubly so if your concern is a plane falling on you from the sky.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for repeatedly using HN for nationalistic flamewar.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The partition was a hideous mistake but it was decades ago and how long can you blame it for unrelated things anyway?.

By that logic as an Englishman I can blame the French for all our screwups.


Well cosequences don't go away.

Russia unified into a single state only because of the Mongoles, so you can blame Communism and cold war on them.


Russia was founded by Vikings. At about the same time Britain was massively raided and invaded by Vikings, and, across the Channel, Normandy (where Wilhelm the Conqueror is coming from) was established by Vikings. Those Vikings may have known each other or even been relatives. So, now we know whom to blame for the major part of the more than millennium of European history afterwards. Though Viking age was clearly result of the global warming of the first millennium (that warming also destroyed the Roman Empire), thus it all just a result of that climate fluctuation back then.

Another example of putting blame through 2 millennia - Space Shuttle booster width as result of the Roman chariot width https://dwanethomas.com/roman-chariots-and-the-space-shuttle...


I mean it's really Ugg's fault for hitting Ogg with that rock in 50,000BC when you get down to it.

Good examples though, worth noting that some roman road paths are still used in the UK (our new roads just went over the top) - the past is a fascinating land.


Hope the world never finds out how we get our driver's license.


They know already. A perennial topic of annoyance for US immigrants in Sweden is that their US licence is only valid for a year here, then they have to retake their test (unlike immigrants from the EU who get to convert theirs automatically).


Germany restricts US driving licences depending on issuing US state.

Denmark is apparently far more willing to let it slide, and anyone with a US driving licence can get it converted to a Danish one with just a doctor's approval. Although, in Denmark, their US licence is only valid for a month. But you don't have to retake the test. I am frankly a bit puzzled by this decision.


This seems to be the current list of rules for non EU countries and US states to transfer the driver's license to the German one after six months (linked by ADAC): https://res.cloudinary.com/adacde/image/upload/v1572337531/A...

After having lived 5+ years in Virginia in the US and knowing multiple people that got their driver's license in Virginia, I am really surprised that apparently people with Virginia issued driver's licenses don't need to do a theory nor a practice test in Germany to get the German license. From what I have been told there was no official driving school/education required in Virginia, neither in theory nor in practice. People could just show up for the tests. And at least the practice test was ridiculous: I drove a friend to his test and after 10min of circling around the DMV building the test was done. And consequently people drive really bad (at least in the NoVa region). No one knew anybody who failed the tests. This is all to say the Germany as well is willing to let it slide to a larger extent than I expected.

For comparison, to even register for theory and practice tests in Germany you need to have taken at least 12 90min lessons for the basics and 2 additional 90min lessons for extra topics, all in official driving schools. For the practice test you need at least 12 times 90min driving hours (5 regular roads, 4 autobahn, 3 at night). In average students take 15 practice hours. It is not so uncommon that people fail at theory or practice tests.


> After having lived 5+ years in Virginia in the US and knowing multiple people that got their driver's license in Virginia, I am really surprised that apparently people with Virginia issued driver's licenses don't need to do a theory nor a practice test in Germany to get the German license.

Due to Langley being in VA maybe?


This was my first thought as well. It was probably more expedient from a diplomatic perspective to allow this, despite the obvious lack of rigorous training & testing.


Interesting about the requirements for the theory test. In France I'm not aware of any such requirements to sit the theoretical exam. They actually even eased the process as you don't have to go through a licensed driving school to sit the exam.

For the practical exam though, there are requirements, but not as explicit. I'm only aware of a number of hours, around 20 I think. When I took lessons for the B permit (regular cars) I had a notebook with different sections the instructor had to fill out as I was progressing. For the A permit (motorcycle) there wasn't any such thing.


Yes that has been my experience living in VA for a year, having come in on H1B visa from the UK. The driving test was a joke. Even back during the 90s, in the UK driving tests were much more difficult.


The states list is based on the one recognizing German licenses, not the rigor of the tests.


That list is missing some US states. Any idea why?


It just list the states where one or both exams (theory, practical) are required (column 2 or 3 has "ja") or exempted ("nein"). If a state is missing (like California), a Cali licence holder needs to take both exams to get their licence converted to a German one.

I'm not sure if they'd have to do the whole driving school (there are mandatory 12 hours one has to drive in Germany, with a driving teacher), or if they can just pass the exams and get a German licence.

Interestingly, Switzerland converts all US licences with no exam requirements. I wonder if someone can move there, get their licence converted, and then move to Germany and convert their Swiss licence to a German one...


It's generally due to reciprocity, so states that allow exchanging German licenses will be much more likely to be on the list, and vice versa.


It seems fair, i grew up near a US air force base and the standard of driving was.... questionable.

On the bright side if you do murder someone by driving on the wrong side of the road you can just catch a plane home and hide there, cant you Anne?



My job is closely related to driver licencing. There are some really unusual agreements between countries. For instance, Spain has special agreements with some South American countries,so people from there can convert their license without taking driving exam. However,even though you end up having an EU licence, if you'd then move to the UK,they wouldn't convert it to British, because initial licence wasn't from the EU. We've had some really interesting cases because of this.


> Germany restricts US driving licences depending on issuing US state.

I always wonder about the situations that inspired regulations like these and exactly how they believe they're solving whatever that problem was.

Was there a rash of accidents involving drivers from Texas? Did someone from Delaware blow the German test so badly that they soured the state's reputation forever? Is this somehow American Top Gear's fault?


The source of this table is probably a legal review of the different exam requirements rather than accident rates and reputation.


I thought about that, but given how easily convertible driving license are between states it still seems like a bad solution to whatever problem they're trying to avoid.


Sadly AFAIK it's just a bilateral contract thing. So if Virginia said "European licences can be converted automatically/you can drive here with them", Germany will also treat Virginian licences the same.


I think the OP was referring to Pakistan. More problematic in this respect are the UN accords that allow people from virtually any country to drive while visiting any other country, so you can have people from poorly licensed countries driving in a place where they're unfamiliar with the road system, language, etc.

The EU/EEA reciprocity is due to EU regulations, not the assumption that every EU country has better driving license standards than every other country.

In Switzerland, for instance, which is not part of the EU/EEA but has a variety of bilateral agreements, EU/EEA licenses and US licenses can and must be exchanged within one year (and these countries among a few others are treated equally), and there are no special provisions for EU/EEA license holders to keep their original license, etc.


I was indeed referring to Pakistan. A decade or so ago, you had to bribe a person or two in order to get your license at the dmv, and they made the actual driving test next to impossible to pass, something like "Make a reverse L shape without hitting any cones" the L being a very tight fit. If you didn't have a DL, you'd pay a bribe every time you were pulled over, although the bribes would be to the tune of $1, although the times have changed since.


>"Make a reverse L shape without hitting any cones" the L being a very tight fit.

When I did my driving licence test in the UK that was one of the exercises. In my opinion, anyone without the hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness to reverse around a corner should stay away from operating ~1 ton heavy machinery.


>"Make a reverse L shape without hitting any cones"

You mean standard test in all of EU?


Same situation in other places, even in Europe. In Romania not only that in small cities this is the only way to get a permit, even if you drive well, but we have people that cannot read but having a driver license.

Corruption is a "well known secret" in every country in the world.


> Corruption is a "well known secret" in every country in the world.

That's certainly not true in my experience. In many countries I've visited I felt like a bribe would be a very bad idea and that above all others trusted the police. In an ex-Soviet-bloc state, I've seen a road police force go from USSR-level corruption to trustworthiness in a matter of ~1.5 decades.


But how does this work in practice? I don't think I ever had to bribe someone. Is it like "Here these $5 are for you!" or you just forget $5 on the dashboard? I can't really picture these situations.


It is different case by case or country by country, the point was that corruption exists in any country; not the same corruption, but it is there. In US you call it lobby or pork barrel, in other countries it's the bribe you need to pay everywhere to get anything.

For example, in Bulgaria I rented a police car with 2 real policemen to drive me out of a town where I got lost and I was driving on the wrong way. Not only I did not got a fine, but for something like $5 I got them to drive in front of me, wrong way, then another few kilometers to the city limits. In the same country any speed ticket was voided for $5, maybe $10 if the speed was outrageous.In Romania until recently it used to be mandatory to bribe any surgeon to get a surgery, it still happens on a lower volume even today. If you want a driver permit you talk to an instructor, they will arrange it for you - just give the money to the instructor and get the exams passed. Border crossing - same, bus drivers were collecting $5 from each passenger to bribe customs officials, they were dealing with the actual bribery.

The situation improved a bit in some countries, or just got a lot more expensive. You can still bribe policemen in Eastern Europe, but it is not working with $5 anymore, it takes 20 or 50. But we had a minister of agriculture arrested and convicted for getting bribed with sausages and booze, just to give an example of how weird the bribery can be.


There's no official handbook to bribing, but you can pass your papers to the officer along with some money tucked inside and you'll get back just the papers if the officer is corrupt.


The cops know how to ask!

I had a couple of experiences in post-war Bosnia. A policeman would pull you aside for “speeding” and ask for 50 Marks (they had convertible Deutschmark as currency at the time). After some haggling they would agree to a 5 Marks reduced fine and give you a “receipt” from a standard notebook.


You pay in cash and state you don’t need a receipt. I’m fairly certain that the speeding ticket I received in some southern african country never appeared on the official ledger. You pay “advisors” that facilitate the border crossing. Plenty of ways to keep the image of respectability while still having cash change hands.


I don't know what it's like in Pakistan, but I was watching something recently where a westerner took a driving test in India, and literally all he had to do was reverse about 5 metres. All this on camera, and the driving tester didn't bat an eyelid, like this was totally OK.

Having travelled a fair bit in India, I've seen accidents happen in front of me, I've seen the aftermath of many more, and I've seen ienumerable near misses - after seeing the driving test, it explained a lot!


Yep! This is how it works in India. Very basic test - drive round a block, reverse and do an L parking without hitting the tires. That was it in my case (2016)

The silver lining is that it was worse before. People literary did not have to go to the authorities to get their licenses; just pay a middle man some money you'll have your license in your hands in the comfort of your homes. So yaay!(?)


This was pretty much what I did for a driving test in Massachusetts 15 years ago. Mine was even easier..., I just had to execute a three point turn.


> In Switzerland […] EU/EEA licenses and US licenses can and must be exchanged within one year

But you don't need to pass any test, they just exchange the paper (at least for EU licenses).


Yep, and the same goes for US, Canadian, Australian, and a few other licenses. There's no preference towards EU/EEA licenses but probably due to reciprocity (?) Switzerland implements it for all EU/EEA countries. My point was in response to the EU license exchange facilitation in Sweden that the GP mentioned, as that isn't specifically due to the more stringent licensing in all of those countries.


> The EU/EEA reciprocity is due to EU regulations, not the assumption that every EU country has better driving license standards than every other country.

The EU reciprocity is based on a common binding framework for driving exams, with common minimal requirements, and Switzerland adheres to it via bilateral agreements.

The requirement to exchange the license is just an administrative one, there is no theory or driving test for EU and EFTA nationals (there is a vision test though).


I honestly don't know how you thought this was about the US. The thread is about the EU safety agency and Pakisti airlines.

I also have no idea how this is even getting votes instead of being deleted.


Same annoyance for any Canadian that moves down to California to live / work.


When I speak to people from countries like Indonesia or Morocco, they act surprised when I mention things like "driver's exam" to them, because apparently in such countries most people obtain their driver's licenses by an "expediting fee" to a government official or a police officer.


good commentary on blancolirio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G62sSwC4t_g as usual


I have been reading hackernews for a number of years, but I have created an account just to reply to this comment

blancolirio is not a good, nor trust worthy, source.

Nearly every word from this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mampv8DdHlU - is, some would argue, stolen, word for word, from an article by The Air Current


I watched the video - fair coverage.

The importance of being on top of licenses and other paperwork is that if you can't get the paperwork right, how can you get the rest right?

Some other notables:

- India has identical fake license problems as Pakistan

- South Korea has CRM and sim evaluation issues with ex-military crews (resulting in the SFO crash)

- SFO has struggled with ILS maintenance in the past decade. (Foreign air crews expect to do ILS approaches, not visuals. See SK SFO accident above.)

- African operators have problems with cabin crews opening doors after landing during taxi to let thieves steal luggage, etc. as the airliner is moving!

- Australia had an issue with drug smugglers accessing luggage. Hope that's resolved.

- Philippines had an issue with airport staff inserting bullets into luggage, then extorting tourists. Resolved after numerous news reports.


The SFO case is interesting, because it's not just "foreign crews don't like visual approaches". It's because the US is commonly using visual approaches kind of as a loophole to reduce separation. All major carriers require that crews use the ILS (or RNAV) as a backup to a visual approach if it's available. But by clearing for a visual approach the controller is no longer required to keep the planes on approach separated.

I know a few European airlines that encourage their crews not to accept visual approaches in the US and request an ILS approach instead, because it's safer.

Europe has solved the same "we need more planes per hour" problem by allowing a reduced 2.5nm separation when both planes are established in the localizer and are radar monitored by the controller.

As a pilot I prefer the European way, because it's more structured and has a few more safeguards. The US method puts the problem with the pilot, who has far worse means to judge separation than the controller


far worse means to judge separation than the controller

Those cockpit windows don't seem like they provide the best view... Out of curiosity, do civilian aircraft have onboard radar? If so, what directions can it see (up/down/front/back/sides)?


Airliners have radar in the nose, you can see the different colored part of the nosecone on some, that's where the antenna is. It points forward, scanning horizontal, with stabilization to compensate for climbing/descending and the pilots can control the tilt to scan above/below the current altitude.

But it's weather radar, so it mostly sees water droplets (rainshowers, thunderstorms etc), not other planes.

The TCAS system scans for transponders from other planes in all directions, checks their path and altitude and will play audible alerts (it shouts "traffic, traffic!") when there is a potential collision risk. You can use it to see other planes on the navigation display, but you cannot legally call that "visual separation".

If a controller asks you whether you have traffic in sight (they must ask that before they can tell you to follow it for example), you cannot say you have it on the screen. That doesn't count, you have to see it out the window.


Yes, it's the TCAS. It sees in all directions. It's secondary radar so it only sees planes with a transponder, but that's usually all of them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_collision_avoidance_sy...


> It's secondary radar so it only sees planes with a transponder, but that's usually all of them.

In particular we're talking here about aeroplanes on an approach to a major airport (if they aren't on approach then by definition they aren't choosing between ILS and a visual clearance, and if it isn't a major airport why are we trying to bunch them up more?).

All US major airports have a "Mode C veil" which means there's a regulation requiring aircraft near those airports to have transponders ("Mode C" is a transponder mode in which the aircraft reports its own assessment of its altitude based on air pressure as well as a four octal identifier).


Since January 1st 2020 the requirement is for ADS-B out. So they will be reporting their GPS position also, now.


> by allowing a reduced 2.5nm separation

Rather alarming to read that as nano-meters briefly!


Haha, just millimeters from crashing in that case.

Aviation is terrible at any kind of SI or even any kind of sane standardization of units at all. Distance is commonly measured in nautical miles (1852 meters), but visibility in the US is in statute miles (1600ish meter?) or feet, while Europe uses km or meters for visibility. Both US and Europe use feet for altitude, but China/Russia use meters for altitude.


I did, too, but I still don't get it. Is it a typo for "min" (as in minutes) ?


nm is "nautical miles". A "nautical mile" is a unit that feels more natural to people concerned with the globe shape of the Earth than the conventional mile (of 1609.34 metres) because it was equivalent to one minute of latitude.

Today it's just defined as 1852 metres.


Nautical miles


Philippines still has the cash fees/bribes scam for all when you fly out of Clark. After you pay for the ticket, and checking you bag, you have various cash fees to pay as you get through security. Woe is you if you didn’t bring cash as you’ll be unable to board unless you pull cash out when there.


What do you mean ? This is run by the employees or someone else. I used to bemoan the corruption in India but at least recently a lot of things have reduced. e.g. When you came back from an international flight, 'agents' would court you and suggesting skipping customs for a bribe (they did the dirty work), this has been mostly eliminated at least in Mumbai airport.

I cannot imagine what a sour taste it will leave if you cannot board a plane. In any case what reason will the authorities have to detain you ? I am assuming you are talking about some official fees and not bribes.


This is just the official airport tax that is normally included in your airline ticket price for most other airports/countries. It's cash only, and they'll gladly accept major foreign currencies at greatly inflated rates if you're caught unaware: https://www.clark-airport.com/


> India has identical fake license problems as Pakistan

Can you provide a source for this?


what is the source of your statement - _"India has identical fake license problems as Pakistan"_


I only see news articles from 2011.


his claim was even more extraordinary..

apparently the problem is IDENTICAL


you should provide sources for your list of notables, atleast for extraordinary claim like the first 2


Playing devils advocate but if PIA pilots really are that bad why wasn’t the accreditation of the certifying authorities withdrawn long ago? What I mean is why didn’t this show up before in the accident statistics? Or were the Western aviation authorities turning a blind eye to it and their hands are now forced by this public revelation?

If civil engineers in a particular country were all fraudulent and buildings were collapsing that would surely be noticed. Or fraudulent surgeons and people dying.


Does anyone have a good reference to competition vs compliance in the airline industry? US has a very competitive airline industry, and hence the incentives for regulations seems to be quite high.

On one hand, since Pakistan has a small fleet (60 planes across 3 airlines per wikipedia), I would assume it's highly competitive and there isn't any room for error/bribing. It's also possible that it's very competitive so not much incentive to invest time in getting a license?

It's also quite odd that Pakistan has really stagnant airline industry while almost all other economies have growing airline transporation. It was 9.63Mn in 2016, and down to 6.88Mn in 2018. Per https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Pakistan/Airline_passengers....


Heavily subsidised gulf carriers (many of which were founded by ex-PIA cadres...) have ate the lunch of the few Pakistani private carriers. PIA used to be nation's pride from its better days, so it's politically hard to rectify it when people with statist sentiment now run the establishment.

Just like Pakrail, and PSM, PIA will be kept afloat, and safe away from privatisation.

Khan's administration took down Sharif, and Punjabi old money people, now come Pathan old money people, and people with even stronger conviction that having a state job legitimately entitles them to run state companies like a family business.


Just out of curiosity. How has Kahn done in your opinion. I don't follow the news too much but I am curious. It just seems like with Pakistan it is impossible to get an objective unbiased opinion anywhere of how things are really going.


> Just out of curiosity. How has Kahn done in your opinion.

Mixed feelings. He cleaned up the state... a bit. People rightfully raise his, and his officers' lacklustre execution skills. Just like two previous establishments, Khan too bogged down in networks of local elites, and old money people with whom he did horsetrading in order for PTI to come to power. At least, unlike the previous leaders, he recognises it as a problem.

He came to power on the promise of undoing the system of clan elites dominating the country, but that's kind of hard to do when your own lieutenants, and backers are made of the same elites...

Pakistan is effectively split in between three huge ethnocentric elites, Sindhi/Seraiki Bhutto dynasty, Punjabi Sharif, and Pathan Khan. Pathan elites were prominent with military, hence Khan's coming to power. And there is a strong statist culture, where state companies used to provide the most lucrative jobs in the country. And there is a culture where people believe that being made a boss is a fully legitimate entitlement to run a state company/ministry/corporate unit like a family business, and there is nothing wrong with that.

A huge generational struggle is happening with people who want to end it vs. ones who don't.

The a massive brain drain that Pakistan experienced after Zia's coup, and mass immigration of anybody of talent will take years to reverse, and undo the negative selection effect.


Thanks! Just out of curiosity, do the gulf carriers keep PIA in high regard and have a friendly relationship or they are continuously trying to bring it down?

The whole "we have grounded people with fake license" sounds like someone knew about it previously, and they are conspiring against PIA. I don't think PIA would be aware of fake licenses and keep them as well? or it took them just a few weeks to find out people with fake licenses?


> Thanks! Just out of curiosity, do the gulf carriers keep PIA in high regard and have a friendly relationship or they are continuously trying to bring it down?

Pakistani airlines were not the only ones whom Gulf carriers have brought down. They dominate the entire region, and rightfully so (aside from heavy subsidies.) Their service is superb.

PIA used to be a much more higher-end airline, and it was on top of global ranks before the troubles started in the country. A lot of Pakistan's talent called it quit at that point, and immigrated en masse, aviation cadres included. A lot of them settled in the UAE, where they crossed paths with the gulf money, and set the foundation for many of Emirati airlines.

Naturally, conquering Pakistani market was very easy for them given their local knowledge.

> I don't think PIA would be aware of fake licenses and keep them as well?

They would. The phenomenon started with Gen. Zia (who died in an airplane crash, ironically.) The country has been ruled by three political dynasties that effectively normalised the state when state companies were given away to children, relatives, and friends to be ran like family businesses.

A double digit of all professionals in the country are fake degree holders, and that's not surprising in a country where now two generations of people were raised internalising the idea that earning money straight, and fair was made impossible as such, per-design.


That's a highly rosy history. I flew PIA from Tokyo to Karachi with my parents in 1985. Our unanimous conclusion: never, ever again.

I don't have an axe to grind with them. My mother's uncle was head of maintenance for them in Karachi, and a good family friend the station chief in Paris. Sadly, like many other Pakistani institutions, it was overtaken by incompetence and corruption, long before the Gulf carriers burst into the scene (and ate European carriers' lunch, not just third-world ones like PIA or Air India).


I think 1985 would be long after the troubles have started. PIA agreed to effectively create its own competitor, Emirates, in 1985 by leasing them their crafts, and pilots not because they did well at the time.


thank you!


[flagged]


We've banned this account for trolling. Religious flamewar is not welcome here. Doing this will eventually get your main account banned as well, so please don't.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


Responding to religious flamewar with nationalistic flamewar helps nothing. Please don't.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Honestly, I think you're looking for intent that wasn't there.

The OP posted a verbatim quote, and one that demonstrated the foolishness of the pilots' cockiness.

If the pilots had been westerners, they might have said 'oh god, oh god!' instead - if they had, I doubt you would have made your comment, so you might want to consider if your own biases/prejudices came into play here (I really don't mean that as an attack; I genuinely think it's good to be introspective on these things sometimes, and consider if our own internal biases are at work).


How can you deduce the religion of the pilot from these words? It is just a common expression in many languages, even non-religious people. I don't know anything about urdu, but a postdoc in my lab is an arab-speaking christian and he says that all the time. Likewise an arab speaking muslim would say that.


'Allah' is just an arabian translation for 'God'. Both arab christians as arab muslims use it to refer to the object of their respective belief.

You might want to question why muslims drop arab words in their non-arab current language.

Then again, thanks to hollywood, most non-english speakers say stuff like 'oh fuck' in their non english sentences. Sometimes they don't even know enough english to realize they are basically requesting supernatural intervention from the act of human procreation.


It’s telling that you consider a quote of Pakistan's Aviation Minister to be sneering with no evidence but your own “impression”, but consider a parodic and contemptuous rendering of “oh my god” perfectly acceptable.


I am not sure where is this coming from ... I reported the statement as it is ..

the thing to worry about is this : The crew was overconfident and not focussed.


But how does the captain's last words tell you anything about his focus or confidence? There seems to be no reason to quote those words.


I think you are being overly sensitive. He picked a quote from the article.


Its right there in the sentence if you go past your own interpretation of the sentence ..

"The crew was overconfident and not focussed"

Because they were talking about Corona and ignored the instructions .. Why are you so fixed by the use of word "Allah" .. I really dont see how it should bother anyone


I really don't see what you are suggesting. Saying "oh my god" does not at all seem unusual or to suggest that the captain was overconfident or distracted or unfocused. It seems about as ordinary a detail as you could imagine. That is why it's such a strange thing to mention. You may as well have say the captain was wearing a uniform and hat for all the relevance I can grasp.


You can see how that might be seen as a dog whistle.


If you perceive something as a dog whistle, it doesn't mean others think so too or that author intended it that way. You have to be understanding. If something seems "off" to you, try to be more open-minded, we live in a multicultral society.


This runs both ways though. At the same time though we should be mindful of our actions and words, as much as possible. If there is a way of saying something that would not be perceived as a dog whistle, then choose those words. This is hard though because our own experiences mean we might not always see right away what is offensive to others, but we should try.


Don't factually quote something because somebody might get offended on behalf of somebody else?

Riight...Best of luck with that.


"OP" here.. I'm not shooting the quoter, I'm questioning if the original article writers have some sort of sneering attitude when they wrote that...


The concept of 'dog whistling' is bogus.

You can only hold people accountable for what they say, not what you think they might be 'signalling'.


You can’t define sophisticated behaviour out of reality, unfortunately.

“Dog Whistle” exists just as other coded forms of communication exist - to pass targeted private messages in public, with some plausible deniability.


People make use of Steganography all the time. The practice of using associations to communicate different messages to two groups is not at all exterordany


I think the main concern is that you created your account just to post this, and it can be interpreted as politically opinionated. In today’s social media climate, one needs to be fairly sceptical when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Having said this, I confirm that this excerpt comes directly from the report.


Especially when their username is "godsplan1".


Could be worse. If it was godsplan2, He would have made a mistake ;-)


Whats wrong with the username ? "God" is very neutral word




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