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Airline Pilot Caught Using Fake License

Airline Pilot Caught Using Fake License
Jennifer Billock

It took 20 years, but after two decades a pilot has finally resigned from his position—which he didn’t rightly earn. William Chandler pulled a “Catch Me If You Can” and forged the paperwork for a proper license to fly a commercial long-haul aircraft; he was, however, flight trained, so there was little risk.

William Chandler, a pilot with South African Airways (SAA), recently resigned following a discovery that his license was forged. Chandler had been flying with the airline for 20 years. The issue came to light after Chandler made some peculiar flight movements after hitting some turbulence over the Swiss Alps.

A subsequent investigation showed that Chandler only had a commercial pilot’s license, not the Airline Transport Pilot License required by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) in order to fly long-haul international flights. Pilots with that license must recertify every year by taking physical exams and participating in flight simulations.

“What seems to have happened here is that the pilot would have taken what we have issued to them… and would have changed those documents to give an impression that they are in possession of an ATPL,” Phindiwe Gwembu, a SACAA spokesperson, told the BBC.

South African Airways spokesperson Tlali Tlali noted that the issue was a concern, but there was no real danger to anyone as Chandler did at least have a pilot’s license that required him to complete safety training—which he did. But, the airline will need to recoup the salary, overtime, and allowances money Chandler received while he was considered a long-haul pilot.

Moving forward, the airline plans to get copies of licenses direct from the issuing agencies rather than from the pilots themselves.

[Source: South African Airways]

View Comments (2)


  1. RoyalSwazi

    March 4, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Will SAA also chase down their former CEOs who stole massive amounts of money? I thought so…

  2. roadwarrier

    March 6, 2019 at 4:48 am

    @RoyalSwazi – 100% concur with your statement.

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