He Flew for 2 Years Unsuspected. Then, the Press of a Wrong Button

British Airways pilot Craig Butfoy jailed after faking flying experience
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2022 12:46 PM CDT
Updated Apr 9, 2022 9:00 AM CDT
British Airways Pilot Jailed After Faking Flying Experience
British Airways planes parked at Heathrow Airport in London on March 18, 2020.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

(Newser) – Who knows how things would've worked out for Craig Butfoy, and the passengers on the planes he piloted, if he simply hadn't pressed a wrong button one day at work. That button press, as it turns out, led to questions being asked, and then a startling revelation: The now-former British Airways pilot had lied about his experience to get the job, per Insider. Butfoy, said to be in his late 40s, was sentenced on March 28 to one year behind bars after admitting to fraud charges and violating an order on air safety standards.

According to court documents seen by the Times of London, Butfoy made up training certifications and falsely noted he had more than 1,600 hours of flying time as a captain when applying for a pilot's job at BA CityFlyer, a British Airways affiliate. He got the job, and between April 2016 and March 2018, Butfoy flew the friendly skies, first for a year for BA CityFlyer, then for Stobart Air, a now-defunct Irish regional airline under the Aer Lingus umbrella. Things fell apart for Butfoy, however, when, while his plane was on the tarmac in Switzerland, he apparently pressed a button "no qualified pilot would," sources tell the Times.

Officials started looking more closely into his background and discovered he'd tweaked his flight hours log before coming to work for British Airways. Per the Independent, some of those flying hours he claimed had apparently taken place in a flight simulator. He also said he'd had a private pilot's license since 1998, which wasn't true, per court documents. Still, a British Airways representative tells Insider that Butfoy was indeed fully qualified and certified—they noted only that Butfoy gave incorrect info as part of his references during the job application process—and that "at no point was there any risk to customers or colleagues." (Read more British Airways stories.)

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