Cops bust SAA pilot who was fired for flying with fake licence for 20 years

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Fired SAA pilot William Chandler.
Fired SAA pilot William Chandler.
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A senior SAA pilot, who had been asked to resign earlier this year after it was found that he had flown commercial airplanes for more than 20 years with a fake licence, has been taken into custody, police have said.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said William Chandler appeared in Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Monday and was released on R5 000 bail.

Naidoo said Chandler's attorneys handed him over to police at OR Tambo International Airport.

"This was after they were informed that we were looking to arrest the man on charges of forgery and uttering."

The case was postponed to May 15 for further investigations.

Previously Mail & Guardian reported that SAA discovered that Chandler's airline transport pilot licence had been forged.

READ: Senior SAA pilot fired for flying with fake licence for 20 years

SAA opened a criminal case of fraud against him.

This was reportedly discovered after an investigation into a "reportable incident" on a flight he piloted.

An incident occurred involving Flight SA206, which operated on an Airbus A340600 aircraft, from OR Tambo International Airport to Frankfurt, Germany, in November 2018 over Swiss airspace.

The flight encountered an atmospheric disturbance at high altitude over the Swiss Alps. 

The airline said its robust safety procedures required that, in such a case, the crew involved be grounded and subjected to a thorough and comprehensive assessment and re-evaluation.

"We are however aware that the pilot concerned was taken into police custody earlier today in relation to a criminal case against him," SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said.

Tlali said internal investigations were still under way.

He also said the airline had suspended its highest-ranking official responsible for safety, after allegations that the official tried to cover up for Chandler.

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