By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 12 May 2013:
A pilot who flew Afriqiyah Airways planes for eight months on a fake pilot’s licence is . . .[restrict]being hunted by UK police after failing to turn up in court for sentencing.
Former US Air Force pilot Michael Fay piloted Afriqiyah Airbus A320 aircraft for eight months, between 2010 and 2011, after using a forged commercial pilot’s licence and fake medical certificates to get the job.
He was arrested on 3 February 2011 after raising the suspicions of another pilot, who reported his concerns to the police, on an internet chat room.
Fay was sentenced in absentia in the UK courts last week for flying passengers into Gatwick, one of London’s main airports, on eight separate occasions without holding the correct licence.
Afriqiyah confirmed that Fay was employed by the company as a contracted pilot for Airbus A320 aircraft.
“We are currently investigating this matter but we understand that his engagement with us may have been arranged through a third-party broker who should have vetted his documentation and credentials before recommending him as a contractor with Afriqiyah Airways,” the airline said in a statement.
“The apparent use of forged documents by Fay to secure his engagement with Afriqiyah Airways has also made us an unwitting victim in his criminal endeavours,” it added.
UK Detective Constable Chris Thorne described Fay as “a clever and resourceful man” who clearly had no concern for public safety.
“He targeted Libyan aviation at a time when the country’s political and economic standing was vulnerable and volatile,” Thorne said.
Afriqiyah said that since resuming its European services in July 2012, all flight-deck crews had been assessed for competence and revalidated through flight simulator checks in several European countries.
This is one of the requirements for the lifting of the current EU flight ban on Afriqiyah and fellow state airline Libyan Airlines.
“As a major national carrier, we place great emphasis on the safety and integrity of our crews and aircraft,” Afriqiyah said, “and we will treat the investigation of this matter with the utmost seriousness it deserves.”
Thorne said that police were working closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority and other organisations outside the UK to find Fay and bring him to justice. There are concerns that he may still be seeking work as either a pilot or flight instructor.
“Public safety is paramount,” Thorne said, “so it is important people are aware that he may be trying to gain work as an airline pilot or flying instructor overseas.” [/restrict]