More stunning information about mismanagement and unauthorised exercise of power in Biman Bangladesh Airlines is coming out after the arrest of a gold smuggling racket in the national flag carrier.
According to sources, some incompetent and corrupt officials are in control flight management in Biman.
Crucial flight operations are supposed to be headed by a senior and experienced captain.
But the Director of Flight Operations cannot perform his responsibilities due to interference by a pilot, who allegedly enjoys blessings of the chairman of Biman.
He is known as a very influential pilot, a senior official of Biman told this correspondent.
Flight management is allegedly controlled by the co-pilot Nazrul Islam Shamim, who is officially the Deputy Chief of Training.
Shamim was PA to Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Jamal Uddin before he retired.
Soon after air chief's retirement, Shamim obtained commercial pilot licence (CPL) from Bangladesh Flying Club and he was recruited in Biman without any hassle.
Months after his recruitment as a cadet pilot, he was quickly elevated to the position of Deputy Chief Training by Biman's chairman, a competent source said.
The influential co-pilot once even failed in Airbus 310 flight simulator training, which raised a question about his capability of performing the responsibility as the Deputy Chief of Training.
Surprisingly for years nobody in Biman questioned the unauthorised interference of First Officer Shamim into Biman's Planning and Scheduling of pilots and cabin crew.
Meanwhile, Captain Shahidullah, Director Planning and Scheduling, was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in gold smuggling.
Captain Ilias, Chief of Pilot Training, failed thrice during flight simulator training. Despite such failure, he was promoted as captain and then flight instructor of Boeing 737-800 in a few months.
He is the son of a war crimes suspect Ashraf Uddin Ahmed, a resident of Sonargaon, on the outskirts of the capital.
Ashraf had stood trial as a collaborator in 1973. But he was released after General Ziaur Rahman scrapped the Collaborators Act of 1972.
Detectives suspect that both Captain Shahid and Co-Pilot Shamim cleverly placed the cabin crew to smuggle gold from the Gulf. The entire operation was coordinated by Palash, a so-called "adopted son" of Jamal Uddin and also friend of his son Captain Zobaer, who quit Regent Airways to join Biman.
Sources said Co-Pilot Shamim is on unauthorised leave with the knowledge of Biman management and is presently living in Canada. He is unlikely to return home for fear of facing the music.
Shamim exerted his influence to ensure that flight captains who retire at 57 are not given an extension for another two years. He also influenced the management to offer a contractual financial benefit which was less than the wages and allowances of a co-pilot.
The disgruntled Captains appealed to former Civil Aviation Minister GM Quader, Biman's Managing Director and others in this connection. Frustrated captains gave up the idea of lobbying as the decision of Biman's Chairman was rigid, sources said.
Thus the Flight Operations established a legitimate excuse to show 'shortage of pilots' during flight planning and scheduling.
Instead of getting the experienced pilots on board, the Flight Operations hired expatriate pilots at a monthly payment of US$ 15,000 - 18,000.
Shamim allegedly accepted kickbacks from each of expatriate pilots. The expatriate pilots shared their frustrations with several Biman Captains, insiders said.