Fake pilot Thomas Salme says passengers were never at risk

A SWEDISH pilot who flew commercial airliners for 13 years with a fake licence said he never put passengers at risk.

Thomas Salme was caught last month as he was about to pilot a Boeing 737 from Amsterdam Shiphol to Ankara in Turkey.

He was arrested on suspicion of holding a fake pilot licence after a tip-off to Dutch authorities.

The 41-year-old had accumulated 10,000 unlicenced hours in the air.

He admitted he doctored his expired pilot’s licence and was fined €2,000 ($2,600) and banned from flying for a year.

“The moral point of view is that I feel ashamed that I did lie but I didn’t ever feel, not once, feel that I put passengers in an unsafe position,” he told Sky News.

He is now writing a book about his experiences but added that no one could copy his behaviour as new checks mean a fake licence would be spotted.

Mr Salme is being compared to Frank Abagnale, the American who conned people into thinking he was a pilot.

Leonardo DiCaprio starred in the film Catch Me If You Can that told his story but Mr Salme denied the two men are similar.

“I feel my name is all over the world, my punishment is more than €2,000,” he said.

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