Did you hear the (other) one about the unqualified pilot?

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An SAA A340 – the pilot allegedly did not have the correct qualifications to fly the four-engine airliner

South African Airways is taking legal action against a pilot who claimed he had an ATPL when, it seems, he didn’ t. What are the implications?

You may recall the one {about the|concerning the|regarding the} unqualified pilot sitting in the first officer’ s seat of an Embraer 190 , and flying the aircraft, seconds before it crashed on takeoff {from the|from your|through the} central Mexican city of  Durango in extreme {weather conditions|climate conditions|climate} in July last year.

So how about the South African Airways pilot who appears to have flown {without the|with no|minus the} proper qualifications for {as many as|as much as|up to} 20 years (yes, that’ s 20 years), types {including the|such as the|like the} huge four-engine A340.

Mind boggling.

First this month, reports of the investigation into the crash of AeroMexico Connect Flight 2431 that found a crew member travelling {in the|within the|inside the} cabin had been allowed {on to the|onto the|to the} flight deck and took the place of the first officer before the departure.

The report says the crew member had ambitions {to be|to become|to get} an E-Jet first officer and while he held turboprop multi-engine licence had only recently started E-Jet theoretical training including 64 hours in a simulator – {below the|under the} target required before route training.

{Lack of|Insufficient|Not enough} experience and windshear on takeoff proved a disastrous combination. Thankfully all 100-plus people on board survived.

South African Airways

South African Airways is {pursuing the|following a} action through the legal {system|program|method}

Now the revelation, published across multiple sources, that South African Airways is pursuing a legal case against a senior pilot who claimed he had mass transport qualifications when, in fact , he only held a commercial pilot’ s licence.

{As many|As numerous|As much} would point out, there is {a world of|a regarding|an associated with} difference in terms of overall training between a CPL and an air transport pilot’ s licence (ATPL).

Suffice to say, reports say the pilot was {forced to|required to} resign after SAA found he had been flying aircraft for more than 20 years without the necessary paperwork.

{According to|Based on|In accordance with} FlightGlobal , among others, the situation was uncovered after an incident involving an Airbus A340-600 which flew into turbulence {over the|on the|within the} Swiss Alps in November while operating SA260 to Frankfurt. The incident {resulted in|led to|triggered} an overspeed, a recovery procedure, and subsequent safe landing.

A combined SAA, German and South African safety authorities investigation resulted in allegations that the senior first officer made “ false representations”, claiming he held an air transport pilot’ s licence {when he|if he} actually only held {a commercial|ad advertisement} pilot’ s licence.

The FlightGlobal report quotes SAA as saying it requires all pilots {to have an|to have|with an} air transport licence within five years of employment. Further, this is linked to the status and conditions of being a senior first officer.

The airline alleges {that the|that this|the} individual under investigation – who has since resigned – “ failed to meet” {the requirements|the needs|certain requirements} but was nevertheless receiving {all the|all of the|each of the} financial benefits of the status.

The report says the carrier is now pursuing a civil claim to recover financial benefits which, it alleges, were unjustly obtained – putting the figure at “ millions” of Rand, taking into account salary, overtime and allowances.

Importantly, SAA says the alleged fraud “ at no point” posed a safety risk.