Landing Exposes Fake Airline Pilot


A woman flying as captain for IndiGo has had her certificate revoked after the investigation of a rough landing in January found she had allegedly forged papers to earn her ATPL certificate, according to India’s aviation authority, the DGCA. The landing at Goa airport apparently involved a nosewheel-first touchdown technique, which led to a problem with the gear discovered on the return flight to Delhi. (The specific type of aircraft was not mentioned in reports, but IndiGo only operates Airbus A320s.) A subsequent investigation discovered the pilot had not only used her nosewheel-first technique several times before, but had also failed her ATPL examination seven times. The case of forged certificates is not unique.

Pilots previously involved in fake document scandals include Thomas Salme, who had accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours and had flown without incident for several airlines in Europe before being discovered. Salme was removed from the captain’s seat of a Boeing 737 last year as it was readied for flight with more than 100 aboard. Ultimately, Salme’s flight privileges were suspended and he stated at the time that he did not intend to work again as a pilot. In 2007, a flight instructor in India was accused of selling endorsements to foreign-trained commercial pilots seeking equivalent certificates in India. With regard to the IndiGo case, DGCA director general Bharat Bhushan said, “We will file a police complaint soon against the pilot.” The agency plans to carry out a detailed probe and take measures to thwart similar occurrences in the future.