"Fake" Airline Pilot Gets Softer Sentence

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Thomas Salme, 41, who acted as captain of a Boeing 737 without proper certification, has been banned from flying for 12 months by a Dutch court and charged with a fine of about $2700. Prosecutors had sought a fine of roughly $18,000 more, plus a 90-day jail term, but the judge rejected the higher penalties and said prosecutors had not properly presented forgery charges. Over the 13 years Salme had been flying professionally as a commercial pilot, he had acquired more than 10,000 flight hours without an accident or incident. He did so without proper certification and with an Airline Transport Pilot certificate that he'd falsified. He was arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on March 2, as he sat in the captain's seat of a Corendon Airlines (Turkey) Boeing 737 with 101 aboard. He was released to his home in Milan two weeks later.

Salme's defense attorney said at the beginning of his career, his client didn't have the money to acquire proper credentials and realized only after he'd taken a job as a commercial pilot that he was technically unqualified for the position. Salme had only been with Corendon for two years at the time of his arrest, but had flown previously with airlines in Belgium, Britain and Italy. His attorney said Salme did not intend to work again as a pilot upon completion of his flight privileges suspension.