South African Airways (SAA) is investigating after discovering one of its former pilots didn’t have a license.

William Chandler flew planes for the company for more than 20 years without a valid license, according to the Mail & Guardian.

Chandler was supposed to secure his airline transport pilot license (ATPL) within five years of being hired in 1994. Pilots applying for an ATPL are required to complete 1,500 hours of flight time and pass several exams, reports the BBC. They also must renew their credentials annually.

Instead of going through the ATPL process, Chandler forged paperwork to fool his employers. 

The fraud was discovered after a “reportable incident” during a flight to Frankfurt, Germany. German authorities later confronted him.

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While the former South African Airways pilot does have a commercial flying license, he will face criminal charges. He has resigned from his post, reports Bloomberg.

“SAA has suffered actual financial prejudice and has opened a criminal case of fraud against that pilot,” South African Airways spokesperson Tlali Tlali said. “Necessary steps will be taken to recover the money unduly paid to him. These include salary, overtime and allowances.”

South African Airways is now working to ensure the rest of its pilots have legitimate credentials.

“Our view is that this is an isolated case,” Tlali said. “We are also conducting our own investigation in order to establish where the loopholes are and whether there is a need to introduce additional countermeasures.”

Twitter had much to say about Chandler’s ruse and his ability to get away with it for so long:

An investigation is underway, and the airline hopes to recover “millions of rand” (several hundred thousand dollars) in damages.

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