WestJet employee faked pilot's licence
By Daryl Slade, Calgary HeraldMarch 24, 2009Comments (19)
A former WestJet pilot who forged documents indicating he had a valid airline transport pilot's licence will not have a criminal record.
Ryan Atkins was given a conditional sentence Monday that requires him to meet a number of conditions, including the completion of 150 hours of community service during a 12-month probationary period.
"Mr. Atkins has two family members who are WestJet pilots, both successful," prosecutor Susan Mulligan told Judge Bruce Millar, referring to Atkins' father and brother-in-law.
"So it's not hard to understand the misgivings he took when he didn't hold a licence, to follow the family members to fly planes.
"Once he made the mistake, he carried on, and it snowballed from there."
Mulligan said Atkins, 25, has since obtained the proper qualifications. He did not pilot any aircraft he was not qualified to fly and no passengers were put at risk by his actions during the time of the forgery--May to December 2007, she added.
Atkins has worked in the industry since 2001, initially as a commercial pilot. He now has his air transport pilot licence and has worked with Bar XH Air in Medicine Hat since February 2008.
Atkins' lawyer, Don McLeod, presented several character references citing his client's pilot skills.
"He has suffered publicity, as far as these proceedings, which has brought him stress and humiliation," said McLeod. "A criminal record would have devastating impact on his career of eight years now."
The fraud began when Atkins applied to work for WestJet, claiming to have written the required examinations and completed the necessary hours.
He provided a photocopy of a licence and test results, which were forged, and was hired in September 2007 on the understanding he would supply the original licence.
Atkins later claimed the original had been stolen from his vehicle. He obtained a temporary faxed copy of his licence but not an airline transport pilot's licence.
Each time Atkins presented the fraudulent licence, he knew it was a false document that he passed as genuine, according to an admitted statement of facts.
WestJet officials became increasingly concerned after not receiving an original licence or examination results.
Atkins provided written results for both tests to Transport Canada.The documents, however, were from his brother-in-law's exams.
Transport Canada's investigation of Atkins' claims concluded he had never written the necessary exams.
He was suspended in December 2007 from his two-month employment by WestJet and has not been reinstated.
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