Fake airline pilot 'landed planes at Gatwick'

image captionFay flew passengers into Gatwick on eight occasions

A man who forged pilot's qualifications to get a job as a commercial airline pilot is believed to be on the run after failing to turn up at court.

Michael Fay, 59, faked papers to get a job with Libyan firm Afriqiyah Airways, flying passengers into Gatwick.

Hampshire police said Fay, a US national, did not attend Winchester Crown Court on 3 May when he was due to be sentenced for fraud.

He was handed three years imprisonment in his absence.

The former US Air Force Pilot, who had settled in Alton, was arrested in February 2011 after raising the suspicions of another pilot on an internet forum.

Police said he operated Airbus A320 aircraft for eight months after forging his licence and medical certificates and had flown passengers into Gatwick Airport on eight occasions.

Officers believe Fay has left the UK and may be seeking work as a pilot or flying instructor.

'Clever and resourceful'

The force is working with the Civil Aviation Authority and overseas law enforcers to bring him back to serve his sentence.

Det Con Chris Thorne, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "Michael Fay is a clever and resourceful man who clearly shows no concern for public safety if he's willing to work without the correct licences and medical certification.

"He targeted Libyan aviation at a time when the country's political and economic standing was vulnerable and volatile.

"Had it not been for the quick thinking of a genuine pilot on the internet forum, Fay may have continued to put the public at risk in this manner unnoticed."

Afriqiyah Airways said it believed Fay had been employed through a third-party broker that had recommended him as a contractor.

It said all flight deck crews had since been assessed for competence in the UK, Germany and other EU states.

An airline spokesman said: "As a major national carrier, we place great emphasis on the safety and integrity of our crews and aircraft, and we will treat the investigation of this matter with the utmost seriousness it deserves."

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