A conman who regularly flew commercial aircraft in and out of Gatwick Airport was grounded today for the foreseeable future.
Michael Fay, aged 61, from Alton in Hampshire will be spending the next three years in prison. He had failed to turn up for sentencing earlier this year.
The former American air force pilot forged his papers to get a job with an airline based in Libya. He was caught when another pilot became suspicious. As Kerry Swain reports from Winchester Crown Court, the case has certain parallels with the story in the Hollywood movie 'Catch Me If You Can'.
The interviewee in the report is Detective Constable Chris Thorne from Hampshire Police.
Michael Fay was a highly experienced airline Captain and instructor, qualified on the Boeing B747 and Airbus A320 who had over 20,000 hours of flying experience. It appears that in the latter stages of his career Mr Fay made alterations to his Singapore licence so that he could continue his flying career.
– Afriqiyah Airways statement
In its statement Afriqiyah Airways said it also wanted to make the following clarifications regarding its dealings with the convicted pilot, including the following:
1 ... was the first organisation to react when it discovered Mr Fay’s documentation was suspect.
2 ... contacted the U.K. Authorities, collaborated fully with the U.K. police which facilitated his arrest at London Gatwick.
3. ... subsequently provided detailed documentation leading to conviction.
4. When Afriqiyah Airways alerted the U.K. authorities it became apparent that Mr Fay was already known to them and other organisations as a forger of documentation.
5. The selection & screening process that was applied by Afriqiyah Airways has been reviewed by an expert, & has been found to be in line with the Airline standard screening for contract crew at that time. Additional precautions are now in place to verify the validity of international licences.
DC Chris Thorne of Hampshire Police said the case of Michael Fay, was one of a man who seemed to regard the licensing of pilots as a bureaucratic process that did not apply to him. Fay aged 61, and who lived in Alton, was sentenced to three years behind bars.