A senior South African Airways pilot has been asked to resign from the airline after it was found that he had flown commercial flights for more than 20 years with fraudulent paperwork.
Although he does have a pilot’s licence it was apparently not in fact converted to the advanced licence required for the position he held, and serious question marks arose around his documentation.
The airline discovered that William Chandler’s airline transport licence was a forgery during an investigation this week, according to Mail and Guardian.
The investigation is linked to an incident involving Flight SA206 from OR Tambo to Frankfurt Germany in November, last year. Chandler allegedly refused to be promoted to captain from a monitoring pilot (copilot) position to pilot, a process which would have required him to resubmit his credentials.
This raised alarm bells, according to insiders, as other pilots who joined the airline with Chandler in January 1994 became captains around 2005.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the airline was reviewing recovering remuneration Chandler earned as a result of the alleged fraud. The amounts are expected to be in the millions, including perks.
“SAA suffered actual financial prejudice as a result of claims he made for over a decade,” said Tlali.
He resigned soon after it became apparent that his licence was an alleged forgery, after initially denying the fraudulent certificate with German authorities when he was questioned.
Questions have been raised regarding the alleged fraud as pilots are required to refresh their licences annually in a process that involves operating a simulator, physical exams, and submitting their licences to an external examiner.
A criminal case of fraud has been opened against the copilot, according to Tlali, who said SAA had tightened up their authentication and validation processes.
“We have identified vulnerabilities in our processes and have since introduced changes in our processes and steps now include the airline liaising with the regulator or the examining authority directly in cases where documentation must be validated or authenticated.”
(Compiled by Gopolang Chawane)