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Swedish pilot flew 13 years without licence

Paul O'Mahony · 3 Mar 2010, 17:02

Published: 03 Mar 2010 17:02 GMT+01:00

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The would-be pilot was apprehended in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 at Schiphol Airport just minutes before it was set to leave for Ankara.

Expressing relief that his duplicity had come to light, the Swede claimed he had flown for 13 years with a forged licence for companies in the UK, Belgium and Italy, spending a total of 10,000 unlicensed hours in the air.

Dutch police said they were able to arrest the 41-year-old on suspicion of holding a fake pilot licence thanks to a tip-off from the Swedish authorities.

The Swede, resident in Milan, had once possessed a Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) but this had long since expired, Dutch police said. He subsequently forged an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), the highest level of aircraft pilot licence and one which enabled him to fly large passenger planes.

An arraignment hearing has been scheduled for Friday, March 5th.

Story continues below…

Following the arrest, Turkey's Corendon Airlines was quickly able to bring in a replacement pilot and the plane left for Ankara at the scheduled time.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

17:44 March 3, 2010 by livinginsweden
A piece of paper does not determine how good a person can fly or drive......

He has not crushed his plane whereas many with a licence has crashed their planes.

ha ha
17:49 March 3, 2010 by sissygirl
the article doesn't tell much. Why did he not renew his liscense? The headline makes us think he was never qualified to fly.
19:02 March 3, 2010 by Furu
I am not sure how it went undetected for all these years.

Do you think his 10,000 unlicensed hours in the air should be counted for future employment positions.
19:33 March 3, 2010 by Osk
Outrageous. This person should be put away for risking passengers lives. He should renew the licence every five years why was this not picked up. Living in Sweden may say its a bit of paper - its not. You need to fly many more hours, take more exams to upgrade form a CPL to an ATPL. Obviously he did not do this therefore he put people at risk.
19:49 March 3, 2010 by wb882
Anything is possible, in the 20/21st century, don't you think.? Scarey though !
19:52 March 3, 2010 by wb882
This person would probably make a good private detective- if you can fly a plane for 10,000 hours without being rumbled, then i reckon he/she could do well in this field of work.
20:02 March 3, 2010 by Rick Methven
The Pilot in question had got his ATPL. What most probably happened is hie lost his job and would have been faced with paying himself for the upkeep of his licence which costs mega bucks.

So although he forged a licence, he would have done his simulator training every year, had medicals and was certainly fit to fly. He would have had conversion training on ant=y new aircraft types he has flown as well. So really not a safety question.

RELAX but insist on see the pilots licence next time you fly. Well they ask for ID when you buy something with a credit card...
20:03 March 3, 2010 by MyOpinion
"The would-be pilot was apprehended..." Would-be? He's been doing it for 13 years! You probably can't get anyone better.
20:15 March 3, 2010 by Osk
The article does not say he had an ATPL. How does anyone know if he did do the sim hours, the medical or did he forge that as well?
20:35 March 3, 2010 by Rick Methven
You clearly know sweet FA about aviation except how to fit your back side on the seat.

The article says

"The Swede, resident in Milan, had once possessed a Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) but this had long since expired, Dutch police said. He subsequently forged an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)"

a A CPL is a licence to fly multi-engined commercial aircraft and is the requisite qualification to get an ATPL. When anybody is employed to fly for an airline he must take a check to get the aircraft type that he is going to fly, on his licence. Thereafter he has to take annual medicals and concurrency checks with a line pilot employed by the airline. He was competent to fly but had not kept his licence current so forged one
21:16 March 3, 2010 by Rahelli
But he is a good piolt
21:37 March 3, 2010 by Twiceshy
10000hrs. he now has 10x the hours most regional jet captains have. give the man a new job! I will fly with him!
21:51 March 3, 2010 by dobermann
From this article it seems possible to fake and cheat in any possible situation. This story sounds almost as the movie ''catch if you can''. But look, he was flying for 13 years without any accident, so he can't be so bad.
23:22 March 3, 2010 by Osk
So why do you need to resort to personal abuse Rick? You know nothing of my background

You wrote in your first mail 'The pilot in question had a ATPL'.

In your second you quote the article which says he once had a CPL (long expired) and had FORGED an ATPL - so he did not have a ATPL according to the article - so why do you say he did..

A CPL may allow you to operate a multi engine aircraft but only if it single pilot operation (so a small commercial aircraft) or be a co-pilot on multi crew operations. But why did he forge an ATPL. Well that allows you to be a commander on the aircraft and that makes it a whole new ball game and requires a higher level of competence.
23:31 March 3, 2010 by Da Goat
I think Instead of charging him just give him a licence I think he might be qualified NOW

If he got away with it much longer they might as well give him retirement or at least a promotion. If you read carefully he is a trained pilot so there is/was no real safety issue (anymore) he has put in the hours. so in short he was a few years ago a naughty boy, now it is just bureaucracy going overboard. the regulators now have egg on their faces because they let him through, It would have been much better to secretly catch him and make him sit the exam for the licence he has been holding.... not tell everyone they mucked up big time by failing to catch him for 13 years ...Give the man a gold watch!
00:29 March 4, 2010 by PonceDeLeon
The real questions. Why did it take so long to catch him? Is he the only unlicensed pilot flying? Whose is responsible for this post 9/11 security breach? 13 Years? That's almost a career...
00:30 March 4, 2010 by rba
Just because he managed to fly for 13 years doesn't mean he had adequate training.

I've read that pilots routinely have training and exams to prove that they can handle a wide set of possible malfunctions and incidents. Many of these incidents are rare enough that a pilot can go for 13 years without facing them outside of these simulated training events. But if they DO happen in a real-life situation, you want a pilot who has taken the training as he's supposed to.
03:55 March 4, 2010 by Greg in Canada
"A piece of paper does not determine how good a person can fly or drive......"

Several years ago there was a "doctor" in Nova Scotia working in a hospital emergency room saving lives, etc, and apparently was very brilliant. Turns out he had fraudulent credentials and had never gone to medical school at all.
08:07 March 4, 2010 by Puffin
The articles in the Swedish press say that Swedish agencies had warned about this pilot but had not successfully been able to pursue the matter given that:

- he did not live in Sweden

- he did not fly for a Swedish registered airline

- he did not fly in Swedish airspace

They had had several requests for confirmation of his credentials from airlines and had informed all who checked that he was not eligible to fly
08:15 March 4, 2010 by Gurkhan
Corendon Airlines? what kind of a company is that?..
08:22 March 4, 2010 by villjobba
If I owned an airline company, I'd hire that guy right away and promote him!
11:19 March 4, 2010 by sherkovic
I think he has passed all his test successfully and deserve an original full scale license now!!!
13:35 March 4, 2010 by izbz

Outrageous.....Sure is! But he sure have more experience after 13 years of flying. Iam quite sure I would mind be on his plane. They should maybe give him a fine and give him a license. Sure in this case he shouldn't go unpunish......hats off to him for all the safe flights.
13:36 March 4, 2010 by pallomamy
you very right sherkovic
14:00 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
From a post by a colleague on PPRUNE


He was a Captain with Corendon, and the AMS base Captain

He was promoted in Air One about 1997-1998

He left Air One and flew briefly for a Leeds-based low-cost carrier, based in BFS

He has been a Captain with Corendon since 2008

I have worked with him and alongside him in all 3 airlines

He was extremely proficient in handling the B737, had training as TRI, and never had any problem with checks
15:10 March 4, 2010 by jazzIIIlove
According to turklsh resoureces;


He has passed all the stuff for the requirements but right now, he lost his job.

Let me say, I believe in experience more than education.
15:29 March 4, 2010 by mannorun
Indeed Swedes are not corrupt!!

16:08 March 4, 2010 by Osk
Ok how about in year 1 - without 10,000 hours behind him - false licence no experience - passengers at risk
16:19 March 4, 2010 by Osk
Aviation is safe - why is that? One reason is all the procedures you go through, the cockpit checks, the engineering checks, the paperwork and yes the licences that you study for and qualify for by passing exams and flying the prescribed number of hours. Don't bother with the licence then and start eating away at the very foundations that makes aviation safe across the world. Sure he bucked the system, he got away with it for years, he did not have accident but it is that system that keeps the passenger safe and he abused it. How many other short cuts did he take? Was he really in a position himself to judge first officers he flew with knowing he did not have a valid licence, When it comes to my safety, in an aircraft, I want the one that does it by the book and not the one that skips the chapter he can't cope with for whatever reason.
16:27 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
He had still passed his 737 checks and held a type rating.

NO Airline can or will allow a pilot who has not got a current type rating in the cockpit. And the CAA of the country where he is based must be shown the evidence that he has done his sim checks with the companies licenced TRE/IRE and that he has had an annual medical. In any case when he started, like all pilots, he flew the right hand seat. Read the quote from a colleague who knows him that I posted earlier he was made up to captain in 2008
16:36 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
Passengers where NEVER in danger from this guy. He is clearly a good pilot who has even studied and passed his Training Captains exam.

Take a look at pprune.org and find the thread ther where Professional pilots talk about the whole matter. There is NO suggestion in any of the posts that he was a danger to anybody. And these are the guys in the sharp end who are looking after their own lives ahead of those of the SLC ( Self loading cargo ) at the back
17:25 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
Trow, I'm not protective of the Guy. But There are a lot of uninformed posts here that are trying to make out that he was dangerous which is not the case.

The guy learnt to fly most probably the same way as I did at a flying school and got a PPL he then went further and got an instrument rating and a twin engine rating for CPL which allowed him to fly as PIC in an aircraft with a max take-off weight of 12,500 lbs. If you dont get in enough hours in any year your licence lapses which seems to be what happened to him. He then forged a licence and went out job hunting, got a job and was trained on the 737 aircraft and got his type rating on that aircraft. he must have been checked at least once a year since then.

He is a cheat and most probably a bit of a Walter Mitty character but he is not and never has been a danger to passengers.

It is really a bit like claiming that you have the required certificates to get into University when you have'nt but study and pass your exams and get a degree
17:26 March 4, 2010 by Osk
You mean read the quote from the anonymous person writing on the Professional Pilots RUMOUR network, sort of The Local discussion board for aviation. Fact (well as reported) when he moved to the left hand seat, to command an aircraft he did not have a valid licence. If you work in aviation Rick surely you must see that it is the system that makes it all safe and the acts of this man have abused that system. He got away with it - that does not make him safe. It's not just the type ratings, its hundreds of hours more study to ATPL from CPL in theoretical issues, I guess he skipped that as well.
17:34 March 4, 2010 by Osk
Unless you flew with him why do you think you are in a position to declare he was safe? All you have is rumour on PPRUNE. To the world a pilot is safe if he has the correct licence having completed the required study, completed the required number of hours been tested on both and given the licence and subsequently renewed it at the right intervals. He did not have a valid licence so why should we think he is safe - because Rick says so?
17:44 March 4, 2010 by simplesimon
He was a very naughty man because the airlines insurance would have been invalid in event of an accident so even if he did previously hold an ATPL and know how to fly any accident would not have been insured. His license must have been revoked for a valid reason.

So speaks an ex-military ATPL holder who drives big kites for a very large (and in the news a lot) British airline
17:49 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
I have worked in the aviation industry for over 40 years. I started on the route to be a pilot which usually starts with a PPL the an IR rating then a CPL then the theory to get an ATPL. I gave up after I got my PPL which also lapsed after a few years as I could not afford to pay for the 50 hours a year required to keep my licence current. This guy had got his PPL, IR and CPL but without a job where he could maintain the 100 hours a year required to keep his licence current it lapsed. To get a job flying he forged an ATPL which does allow you to be a Captain but is Frozen until you have a minimum of 1,500 hours flying as a co-pilot. Even after a pilot has the requisit hours to take command this very rarely happens until such time as he has merited the rank as eveidenced by his record and the annual check that he has done. No airline gives a guy a Captains job just because he says he has the hours. The licence is just a pice of paper to say that you have passed a test. his log book duly signed by the chief pilot is the record that says if he is capable. Until he was capable he was kept in the right hand seat.
17:56 March 4, 2010 by simplesimon
Dude I am a right hand seat pilot with vast experience. I hope you are not inferring that rhs pilots can't and do not run the ship. My background was as a captain in the RAF with plenty of action in A'stan and Iraq. The nature of many airlines means you cannot just skip to command as the majority do not work on merit. All pilots in my company require command ability (and many rhs pilots have been) and there is no fundamental difference other than the legal final say falls at the guy/girl in the left seat.
18:10 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
Thats right. I do not know this guy and he certainly is a cheat (who saved himself a load of money but you as a pilot know as well as I do that there are enough checks and balances in Civil (and Military aviation) to ensure that the aircraft is not put in danger by giving the left hand seat to somebody who is not capable. You may well do a better take-off or landing than the guy in the left hand seat but that does not put you in charge.

In my day you moved up in the right hand seat from smaller to bigger aircraft and when you did get offered the left hand seat it was usually back in the twin T/P you started off in.

It seems to me that some people seem to think that getting a pilots licence is like a car drivers licence pass one short test and bingo set for life
18:25 March 4, 2010 by simplesimon
Indeed Rick. Same opinion. Hope my airline survives. All a bit topical with strike threats. Cheers Dude
19:24 March 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
Well Ryanair looks likely to keep on going if you need a job

Aviation joke.

A guy is standing in a bar and another guy walks in, come up and orders a beer, he smells bad and is covered in toilet paper. The first guy says "you stink". The second guy says yes I do, I drive the honey waggon at the airport and sometime the valve gets stuck and the comes out the side and gets allover you just like now. First guy says "seems like a bad job is there nothing else you can do?"

"Plenty and better paid" says the guy. "So why not change jobs" says the first guy

To which the reply was...

"What, and leave aviation?"
19:34 March 4, 2010 by simplesimon
Yes very good.

Think I'd rather drive the 'Honey Wagon' than fly fro Ryan Air
20:47 March 4, 2010 by mannorun
@Rick Methven & Simplesimon

you guys can invite each other for a drink and blah blah amicably or in watever means you both deem necessary. :( hehehehe
21:31 March 4, 2010 by Buccaneer
@ PonceDeLeon

"The real questions. Why did it take so long to catch him? Is he the only unlicensed pilot flying? Whose is responsible for this post 9/11 security breach? 13 Years? That's almost a career".

This situation gives a good picture of employment in Sweden, if you are ethnic then your qualification or non qualification is better than any immigrant with a sound qualification for the same job.

I could make a bet that there are more like him in Sweden and outside Sweden.
21:55 March 4, 2010 by rba
People who are defending the guy should realize that these licenses, training programs and regular tests are in place for a reason.

Unless you are an authority on the matter and have something to tell us about the usefulness (or lack of it) of these programs, you should just shut up and let the pros do their job. That means not allowing people to pilot a plane unless they've followed all the necessary rules.
22:01 March 4, 2010 by Nilspet
I only one word about this very pilot--> "impressive" !

22:24 March 4, 2010 by chaliboy
watch out! corruption is finding its stand in sweden nowadays. I believe there are a person or group of people who where protecting him in the swedish authority since all these years. a change of positions or authorities (appointment) might have played a big role here. Just like helicopter heist which is still a misery till today.
09:35 March 5, 2010 by ali_bin_umar
I think the pilot should now try to get licence now and resume his job. After all he had 13 years of flying experience.
11:37 March 5, 2010 by Sam1
catch me if you can!! now this guy is a proof that You can be what you want and you dont have to go through some stupid education system for doing something.

Now adays its the certificate that makes you a human not you!! if you dont study their stupid way!! you are void!! you have to study frueds Ideas to become a psychologist you have to learn some other dumb az ideas to become a sociologist.

BUT pilot doctor is something danerous!! thing to pretend
11:47 March 5, 2010 by Alex Coman
10.000 hours

Winters, storms, technical problems, all kind of difficulties...

He is a Teacher.
12:13 March 5, 2010 by Rick Methven
There are bold pilots and old pilots but there are no old, bold pilots

There I was upside down with nothing on the clock but the makers name
12:49 March 5, 2010 by wabasha
good for him! he held his middle finger at the system. i wonder how may others are getting away with it? every now and again a doctor get caught doing the same thing
12:53 March 5, 2010 by Leo ni leo
He should be charged for terrorism, obviously he terrorised the passegers with fake licence and risked their lives. Air travel is increasingly becoming dangerous and such cases just reveal how easy it is for terrorists to slip in and to fly planes and crash them at their own will.
14:52 March 5, 2010 by zeulf
So.... "Practice makes the Master" ? even in medicine.
15:18 March 5, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
So where do you find these so called 'claims'?
15:56 March 5, 2010 by plopp
But you said

well if they tried to arrest him ealier then that hardly counts as a 'claim' that they know nothing about him. The opposite surely?
16:16 March 5, 2010 by plopp
Not sure I understand what you just said there. Does that mean that next time I 'forget' my wife's birthday I'm off the hook since forgetting means I know nothing about it?
16:32 March 5, 2010 by Kieruk
I just heard from a reliable source that actually he didn't do any of the flying himself, but supervised others taking control, and so was not a threat to anyone, but was just doing it as we liked to holiday in lots of places, and it gave him a good excuse to get away from his wife.

18:05 March 5, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
So, contrary to your claim, they knew his whereabouts. My guess is that they did not pursue because the crime he committed did not warrant a sentence longer than 2.5 years in prison and thus they could not extradite him anyway.
18:39 March 5, 2010 by simplesimon
If he was supervising crews it would suggest that he was a training pilot, which would be a bigger worry than being at the controls. Any I do not doubt his ability but merely question his integrity. Good job he never had an accident. Hope they're not too hard on him all the same. The airlines have culpability for failing to make the necessary checks on the guy and also the Joint Aviation Authority for not catching it.
22:19 March 5, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
At least they are more credible that your "facts"...
08:45 March 6, 2010 by square
What a load of dribble in these posts. Fact is he is grounded and about bloody time.
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