Conman who faked pilot's licence flew British passengers into Gatwick airport
A conman forged a pilot’s licence and medical certificates to obtain a job flying into one of Britain’s major airports.Michael Fay, an American who settled in Alton, Hampshire, spent eight months piloting an Airbus A320, landing repeatedly at Gatwick.
The 59-year-old is now being hunted by police after he failed to appear in court to be sentenced for fraud.
He is believed to have fled the UK and may be seeking work as a pilot or flying instructor, police said.
Fay, a former US Air Force pilot, had worked for Afriqiyah Airways - the Libyan national carrier, and made eight landings at Gatwick between June 1, 2010 until he was arrested on February 3, 2011.
Police were only alerted to his fraud when another pilot became suspicious while talking to him on an internet forum
The conman was due to appear at Winchester Crown Court on Friday, May 3. He was sentenced to in absentia to three years in prison.
Detective Constable Chris Thorne, from Hampshire police, 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.”
An international hunt for him us now under way and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has also been alerted.
The fraud came shortly before the collapse of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which owned Afriqiyah Airways and had invested in a fleet which included the medium-range A320, which seats 144 passengers in two classes, for the airline.
Afriqiyah Airways, based in Tripoli, operated domestic services as well as international flights to 25 countries before the civil war. It resumed its European service in July 2012 after losing safety accreditation during the conflict.
Det Con Thorne added: “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.
“Public safety is paramount so it is important people are aware that he may be trying to gain work as an airline pilot or flying instructor overseas.”
A spokesman for the company said Fay’s employment “may have been arranged through a third-party broker” who should have checked his documents and was investigating.
“The apparent use of forged documents by Michael Fay to secure his engagement with Afriqiyah Airways has also made us an unwitting victim in his criminal endeavours,” the spokesman said.
“At no time did his behaviour or demeanour draw attention to his ability or competence to fly the aircraft either with his colleagues or the station staff at Gatwick.
“Since the resumption of the airline’s European services in July 2012, as part of our continuous improvement programme all flight-deck crews have been assessed for competence in the UK, Germany and other EU states by flight simulator checks and revalidation on type as necessary.
“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.”