South African pilot resigns after flying for more than 20 years with a fake license

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A South African pilot, William Chandler has resigned from South African Airways (SAA) after flying for more than 20 years with fake license.

A South Africa Airways Airbus A330-200 at Cape Town International Airport

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. South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian (M&G) reported that 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.

Fired SAA pilot William Chandler. (Facebook photo)

SAA said in a statement that, after investigating the incident, it found Mr Chandler had only a commercial pilot’s license. He later resigned.

Airlines require pilots to have an airline transport pilot license (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.

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License-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).

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