A South African pilot working for South African Airways, William Chandler has resigned after flying for more than 20 years with a fake licence.
In a statement, South African Airways said it discovered William Chandler’s paperwork was forged after a “reportable incident” during a flight from South Africa to Germany.
The airline has filed criminal charges and is seeking “millions of rand” from Mr Chandler.
A safety officer at SAA has also been suspended for allegedly trying to cover up the forgery.
According to South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian (M&G) , Chandler worked as a flight engineer at the state-owned SAA before getting a job as a pilot in 1994.
He was a Senior First Officer, a role where he was a monitoring pilot but did not command any aircraft.
Sources told the M&G that he was, however, in control of a plane that “made some strange turns” after encountering turbulence over the Swiss Alps.
In the statement, SAA said, after investigating the incident, it found Mr Chandler had only a commercial pilot’s licence.
He later resigned.Airlines require pilots to have an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) for long-haul international flights.
For an ATPL, pilots must pass several technical and medical exams and complete 1,500 hours of flying time. Licence-holders must “refresh” their credentials every year in a series of tests involving flight simulations and physical exams.
The certificates are awarded in South Africa by the country’s civil aviation authority (SACAA).