Bumming a ride

The fake Italian pilot who has been in the news for making it through security onto flights just by wearing a pilot uniform and carrying a false ID says he was imitating the character played by Leonardo diCaprio in the Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can
The diCaprio character was based on an real American trickster called Frank Abagnale, who used a pilot identity to travel free of charge, which he did for a long time highly successfully. The Italian, operating under the name Andrea Sirlo, claims to have got his ideas from the film, which implies he was not necessarily after the actual piloting experience assumed in early media reports.
But maybe he genuinely was looking for a way into one of the front seats, and just hadn’t made it there yet. His Facebook and Twitter profiles set him up as a Lufthansa Cityline first officer, police found flight manuals at his home, and the picture below strives to provide him with credibility – even if it fails because he’s clearly not airside.
Fake pilot.jpg
According to UK newspaper The Guardian he made it onto the flightdeck of a Lufthansa subsidiary Air Dolomiti ATR72 as a “third pilot”.
Rumour has it that what actually happened is he was permitted a jump seat ride by claiming he was “commuting” to work, which lots of genuine pilots do.
So sure, there was a major failure of security, but getting to fly is more difficult: to get rostered as crew you have to be on the payroll. The question is, how long would it have taken him to have made it onto the payroll if he hadn’t been caught?
Although things have supposedly been tightened up in India now, two years ago there were several cases of “pilots” with no qualifications except a counterfeit licence and log book getting pilot jobs with airlines and operating for months without discovery.


One Response to Bumming a ride

  1. Robert Barnes 24 September, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    A much more serious example of unqualified pilots being on the flight deck was reported in the news last month:


    The pilot of a Russian charter aircraft that crashed last year, wiping out a professional Russian ice hockey team, had been granted permission to fly based on forged documents.

    The International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP) is now introducing an electronic CV (eCV) for our global pilot community which may very well eliminate this problem: