South African Airways Goes After Pilot Who Held Wrong License


South African Airways has laid fraud charges against a former pilot after finding out that he operated international flights with the wrong type of license.

SAA is seeking to reclaim “millions of rand” paid to the aviator on the assumption that he held an Airline Transport Pilot License, it said in a statement Friday. Following an incident involving a flight to Germany last year, it was found that he possessed only a basic Commercial Pilot License, it said.

Airlines require the more comprehensive APTL license for international flights.

“SAA has suffered actual financial prejudice and has opened a criminal case of fraud against that pilot,” said Tlali Tlali, a spokesman for unprofitable state-owned airline. “Necessary steps will be taken to recover the money unduly paid to him. These include salary, overtime and allowances.”

The discrepancy was revealed during the investigation of an incident in which an Airbus SE A340-600 encountered turbulence over the Swiss Alps en route to Frankfurt. The disturbance put it the jet an “over-speed condition,” SAA said, and the pilots were forced to perform a maneuver to regain stable flying. The plane landed safely and was found to be airworthy and properly maintained.

The case is a minor headache for SAA compared with its financial woes as debt of 9.2 billion rand ($653 million) comes due at the end of this month. The carrier received a government bailout last year to meet an earlier repayment obligation, and is striving to turn itself around after seven years of losses.

To prevent other pilots from flying without an ATPL license, SAA will now obtain all pilot qualification certificates directly from the examination authority, the airline said. It’s also submitted all current pilot licenses to the South African Civil Aviation Authority for checks.

“We find it disconcerting that misrepresentations were made about the type of license that the pilot claimed to possess,” said Tlali. DM


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.