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Fake Swedish pilot convicted by Dutch court

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08:01 CEST+02:00
41-year-old Swede Thomas Salme who flew for 13 years without a valid pilot's licence has been served with a small fine and banned from flying for one year after a conviction in a Dutch court.

Salme was not in attendance at his trial at Amsterdam's main Schiphol airport on Tuesday, according to Dutch media reports. The court convicted him and served a fine of €2,000 ($2,700) and a one year ban.

Despite the court expressing admiration for the Swedish pilot's evident skill at the controls of an aircraft, the prosecutor stated dissatisfaction over the soft penalty and is considering an appeal.

"One could think that that he had been a danger to air traffic during all these years, but the fact is that he flew for 13 years without incident," said prosecutor Bote ter Steege to Dutch media.

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, Turkey on March 2nd.

Salme expressed relief on his arrest that his duplicity had come to light and admitted that 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.

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