PIA allegedly awards Rs700 million contract to a ‘mysterious’ company…

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has awarded a Rs700 million contract to a company that you can’t locate on Google and didn’t exist in FBR records prior to March 2019.

According to an evaluation report of the national flag carrier, the contract was awarded to M/S Avionics Solution Pakistan through open bidding.

The contract awarded to Avionics Solution Pakistan is of the building of Indigenous In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems in eight out of 12 Boeing 777 planes of the national flag carrier.

As per the evaluation report, the bidding opened on July 8, 2019 at 10 30 AM and closed on July 15 at 15:00 PM.

Now here’s what’s strange about the whole affair–one cannot find the website of Avionics Solutions Pakistan–that has won the lucrative contract through open bidding–on Google.

Furthermore, according to the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) records, the company does not have any history prior to March 2019. That’s right–the company that has won a Rs700 million contract to upgrade In-Flight Entertainment systems did not exist in our tax records four months ago.

Why is this a cause for concern?

IFEs feature audio, video and gaming entertainment provided to Passengers during their travel. Passengers can play games or watch their favourite movies as they fly or watch satellite imagery.

Upgradation of IFE systems is a sensitive issue. The crash of the Swissair MD-11–a passenger airliner that crashed on September 2, 1998, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada–comes to mind. It resulted in the deaths of 229 persons.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the crash had been caused as a result of faulty wiring in the flight’s IFE. The faulty wiring system overheated and caused a fire, triggering other aircraft systems to collapse and ultimately, resulting in a plane crash.

Hence, installing or upgrading an IFE should be awarded to professional companies. We don’t know much about Avionics Solutions Pakistan and that pretty much is the gist of the problem–the company doesn’t have a strong background.

PPP MNA and a member of the Aviation Committee Sherry Rehman promised to take up the issue with the committee.