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Are big jets really easy to fly, or is the ATPL theory just garbage?

I’m quite happy with SD when flying IFR.

Me too. It would be awesome if they could integrate the Jeppview approach charts into SD. No more switching between the two apps…

EBST, Belgium

A politician makes a statement – and while we always complain that European politicians have no clue about air traffic, Pakistani politicians are obviously deep experts.
A US general news website is citing this statement most likely from a local Pakistani news agency – and while we always complain that for our general news websites every plane that is not a “Jumbo” is a “Cessna”, these are obviously deep experts for aviation

And the entire aviation world is shocked.

If we look more closely to the situation, one might ask what really happened. Even if we assume, that 1/3 of the Pakistani pilots do not have a valid license – and disregard the fact the Pakistani Government is only in office since 2018 so what the politician did was basically blaming the prior government (something no politician would ever do without extremely solid fact base) – one still had to ask: Why?

Did they “just” fail on a theory exam or a proficiency check or did they never visit a flight school? Or did they perhaps not fail at all but did not take a required exam or proficiency check? Was it their fault or just common practice in the country that you don’t take these things this seriously? If it’s true that they send other people into theory exams, was it because they would have failed or because they “needed” a 100% performance to get the job and would only have passed with average grades?

Even if it’s Pakistan I think it is quite unlikely that people who have no idea about flying show up at an airline saying “I want to fly” and get the answer “Great, here are the keys – you figure out how to start the engine…”.


Same thing happened in India some years back.
Wealthy families paid their kids into airline jobs, bribing for „tests“ and jobs. It’s not a clear cut no license/no training situation, more like some deep sump that involves envelope money, ink time and happy patriarchs.

EASA CB IR Training

Although we like to think about the aviation industry as one global industry, in the end it is very local.

Anything below fully airline sponsored programs (i.e. pay for license / pay for rating / pay for experience) has some component of economic selection.
In some countries you have to pass multi-day central exams, in others you talk to your checker.
In some countries you could select your own checker, while in others it’s randomly assigned centrally.
In some countries the checkers for airline pilots are employed at the same company as the pilots they check.
In some countries you need an ATPL to work in an airline cockpit, in others you don’t (that’s almost 1300 hrs difference in experience!).

Each of those differences – if singled out and used out of context – can be scandalized in general media in a “how could you” way – although non of them has a statistically significant impact on safety. And as Pakistan is far away and has a culture that we are very unfamiliar with, it is so easy to make this point on their practices…


non of them has a statistically significant impact on safety

I don’t think so; crew training and procedures have a huge impact on safety. 3rd World airlines have a much worse safety record, for the same aircraft types.

Why wasn’t the 737MAX crashed by any Western airlines? Etc… probably because they don’t normally stall them.

The one thing which is common around the world is the high performance and great wx capability of the big jets, and that is also a huge factor in the safety of airline flight.

I don’t think buying the CPL/IR or ATPL exam passes has any impact on safety (IMHO the biggest effect of the 14 EASA exams is to make it very hard for a suicide terrorist to get into the system, because nearly all of them are too thick) but other things which would most likely go along with that culture probably do have.

For example, after the Turkish 737 crash at Amsterdam it came out that, in Turkey, an ex air force F4 (Phantom) pilot gets some huge training shortcut. Reportedly he would be able to enter the TR course directly and end up with an ATPL right away after that. Obviously I don’t know personally whether this is true. In the UK you get the complete opposite where an ex RAF multi pilot jet crew, regardless of experience, has to sit the 14 exams and do classroom time at an FTO; that bit I can confirm because I was sitting next to some

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think it is clear enough that we are not talking about people who’ve had no proper training whatsoever.

We’re Prob99 talking about people who went through the system as normal but made a ‘facilitation’ payment somewhere instead of doing some exam or checkride, or had someone else do it for them – simply because (a) they found doing it properly too much like hard work, and/or (b) that’s how things work in that part of the world.



Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Why wasn’t the 737MAX crashed by any Western airlines? Etc… probably because they don’t normally stall them.

Not a good example : AF 447 ? Though I do agree with much of the rest of your post.

I think that Graham has it when he says “thats how its done in that par of the world”.
You dont have to go further than eastern Europe to see how the “system” is shortcut – think driving licences, and these are European countries.

Regards, SD..

I did carefully say “normally”

A Thompson crew nearly crashed a 757 at EGHH a few years ago. It was at something like a 45 degree up pitch before they recovered. Nobody in the back noticed; it was discovered by some routine check of the QAR. The two pilots had kept their mouth shut. They got fired.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

skydriller wrote:

I think that Graham has it when he says “thats how its done in that par of the world”.

My favourite anecdote regarding this is from the memoirs of Howard Marks where he recounts a business partner (a Pakistani high-society drug baron) asking him – because he is an Oxford graduate – to help get his son into Oxford University:

Drug baron: “I would like my son to go to Oxford University – can you help?”

Marks: “He will need to apply and I could look at his application and offer advice, but that’s it really.”

Drug baron: “Money is no problem. For you and whoever else at Oxford. Just let me know how much and where.”

Marks: “Really, it doesn’t work like that I’m afraid. You can’t buy your way in.”

Drug baron: “Really? That is amazing. You have strange customs in your part of the world!”

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