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OSHA Orders Pilot To Be Reinstated After Being Illegally Fired

Faced one night with a trip over mountainous terrain in a medical transport helicopter with a faulty emergency locator transmitter, a pilot refused to fly the unsafe aircraft and was later terminated in retaliation for doing so. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration followed. As a result, Air Methods Corp. was ordered to reinstate the pilot, pay $158,000 in back wages and $8,500 in damages, and remove disciplinary information from… ( More...

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Doug Herman 13
If it's not safe, it's not safe. Sooner or later you have to let the person whose ass is going to die in the crash with you make the call. We pay the folks at the controls to get us there in one piece, and we can't let ownership, with a huge insurance cushion in case something "unfortunate" happens, make the make that decision for the pilot. If I'm going up in the air, I want the guy/gal up front, who has the same to lose as me, making the go/no go decisions. Flying is an unnatural act for humans, so let's not let some desk jockey get in the mix.
patrick baker 9
i expect this ruling got the attention of the morons who would compromise safety and knowingly put pilots and passengers in a lesser safe condition. unsafe is unsafe is unsafe, and anybody who has ever flown anything ought not to put another pilot in any jeopardy situation simply for convenience sake. a faulty elt is a no-go item period. If I had to go in this situation, I would file IFR and thereby be on somebody's scope all the way. If I went down, someone would notice where, maybe. However, when a pilot busts a federal aviation regulation, guess whose liscense and wallet gets affected.
I would also expect that now Air Methods will find another reason to fire him. They have lost a number of their whirly birds in semi-recent history.
bentwing60 5
Filing and flying on an IFR flight plan does not guarantee that you will be in radar contact throughout the entire flight, although in the states the coverage is fairly seamless. Don't assume that being IFR will mean radar coverage! It ain't so!
Mark Lansdell 2
I'm not sure all their whirley-birds are equipped for IFR.
louis salazar 5
I remember when I was a crew chief on a Huey in Vietnam the engine fire light came on at about 4000 feet. Started looking out the back for smoke or flames,saw none. Made it back to the base and I red Xed it. Maintenance officer said it was a faulty sensor and to take red X off so it could be flown again. Told me to "fly it and watch it". I told him to screw you, fix it 1st. Wasn't like we could land anywhere if something happened.
Mark Lansdell 3
"Right main tire almost flat." " Almost replaced right main tire."
mike orf 4
Take the cash, but turn down reinstatement. Safer and healthier to work for a different boss.
btweston 4
There must be some mistake. I was told that the private sector doesn't need oversight.
chudddds 4
google helicopter crash south padre island, and look at the following lawsuit. that pilot made the wrong decision, and peoples lives were lost.
Mark Lansdell 3
I haven't goggled your web site, but assuming you mean that the [pilot was issued faulty equipment and told to fly it then found to be responsible, it's an old story and employers have been doing it for years. As in trucking, taxi cabs, or any business where there is equipment and an operator, the equipment operator no matter what his title is responsible.
Pilot in comand did the right thing!
louis salazar 3
I remember when I was a crew chief on a Huey in Vietnam the engine fire light came on at about 4000 feet. Started looking out the back for smoke or flames,saw none. Made it back to the base and I red Xed it. Maintenance officer said it was a faulty censor and to take red X off so it could be flown again. Told me to "fly it and watch it". I told him to screw you, fix it 1st. Wasn't like we could land anywhere if something happened.
ADXbear 3
Good for him, more should do this against employers like this.
Gerry Coffman 3
Medical flights...I was told there is a copter crash in the free world daily. And half of all helo flights are medical. Knew a hospital had a "LIFE FLIGHT". medical administrators
would constantly push to go even in blizzards. "Were here to save lives!! My god that's what we do!" with righteous indignation. Got there way till a foggy night crash with all aboard ant patient tragically deceased. Those who pushed to go adjusted there starched lab coats over their sharp business suits and said with a shake of head, " Pilot error..."
Good call by the pilot and OSHA.
Guy Lessard 3
...they must have a M.E.L. ( minimum equiptment list ) on board.. what does it say about faulty ELT... ...but by the end if it says : "NO GO ".. good for him (captain ) for standing your ground
bentwing60 3
One of my job interview questions as a pro pilot has always been, "Who makes the go, no go decisions regarding maintenance and weather?" If the answer is anything other than you do, I won't be flying for them. They pay us just as much to know when not to go, as opposed to the other way around, though many don't consciously think of it that way.
ken young 2
The scary part is that the decision to order the pilot to continue the flight may have come from someone in dispatch or similar position that was without any flying experience. Nor had the knowledge of Part 91 which deal with ELT's.....I think.
Here is a link from the Cornell University Law School....
patrick baker 2
there are folks staggering around who despise unions, still taking 40 hour work weeks, vacations, health care and retirement as something that just happened to appear. This case shows the need for strong union presence, for it is not that management is uniformly bad, just that managers are people too, just some of them say indefensible comments from time to time. Managers do no have the right, and in fact have the responsibility, not to place employees at unnecessary risk. Unions and management get to define what "unnecessary" gets to mean at this company, and the federal government owns the dictionary. It takes creative tension, which looks like union-management confrontation from time to time, to steer best a company . Meantime any pilot can say no go .
Mark Lansdell 2
I'm one of those, but hardly stagger I've worked on both sides of that fence and prefer the side I landed on. There are some situations where there is no choice and tht's not good either.
jim garrity 2
PIC's rule&pay when thing's go Tango Uniform!
joel wiley 4
How does that old saying go, it's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6?
jetcru 1
Of all the unnecessary Avionics required by the international aviation community; minimizing the roll of the pilot without contemplation of what is really helpful and what is harmful! It confounds me that a GPS Tracking devise is not required to be installed on every certified aircraft as a backup to ELT. As existing technology, such a system would require minimum cost per aircraft and by substantially reducing the search area, Rescuers get to the crash site earlier and at less cost.
Mark Lansdell 2
Please be a little more specific. Kindly define "require minimum cost per aircraft". I think you meant minimal, but that needs defining too. Just as an aside, there is some weather when manned flight just shouldn't be tried. I've been in conditions where I wouldn't want to fly a C130 never mind a helicopter. An ELT only helps find you after the crash.
jetcru 1
BLACK and White: Unless the FAA issued Operation Specification to the Charter company that are more restrictive than the FARs, an ELT can be temporarily removed for repair under the rules provided by FAR 91.207 f(10) for up to 90 days. At the same time FAR Part 91.3 states that the Pilot is the “final authority as to the operation of the aircraft.” So it is likely both company and Pilot were both within the regulations. The alternative to an operating ELT, the Pilot could have made arrangements with his Dispatcher by mapping out a specific course of flight with report in-times. Even with an operating ELT, I recommended this practice for any VFR flight over remote terrain. Be careful Aviators; don’t jump to conclusions there is always at least two sides of a story. As we mature into seasoned Pilots we learn to recognize “Safety” is a lot more murky-gray than we want to believe.
chudddds 4
was it within regs to terminate the guy ? I guess we found out.
bentwing60 2
Sadly, from a management standpoint, the "murky-gray" routinely becomes a murky-costly financial issue, or don't want to piss off a regular customer, ergo, somebody has to say no, and it probably won't be the chief pilot or the DO. Just sayin! In agreement on the rest.
jetcru 3
SAND FLEAS After 4 decades as a Professional pilot in Jet Airplanes and Helicopters (including Air- Ambulance) I’m now in Management. I dispatch pilots and hold my breath until they, and my passengers come home safely. I also have a duty to my customers, the company, and to mission completion. The reality is; that balancing these concerns are not always “black and white”! Regulations and procedures can only go so far. The rest is left up to us as professionals to do the right thing.
We have some really big issues to tackle in Aviation including, a serious pilot shortage, (lowering of hiring standards) not enough experienced mechanics to go around, lack of redundancy in our ATC system and not enough airports. Since our head is in the sand I suppose we can be content to look around for OSHA sand fleas.
Mark Lansdell 2
While I've never owned nor dispatched airplanes, helicopters pilots and air crew, It's very similar to any transportation business. In trucking for example, even a faulty headlight is charged against the operator's license while an inspection ticket is issued to the vehicle owner. If the operator knows there is fault with the equipment assigned he is bound not to operate it. I suspect it's the same for aircraft. However, an employee serves at the pleasure of the employer.
Bob Baggerman 0
The OSHA inspector wrote "Pilots should never have to choose between the safety of themselves and their passengers, and their job", which is certainly true. But come on folks. It was an ELT!
mariofer 8
The pilot did the right thing. Actually, whether intended or not, he was looking out for the well being of the company. Long and behold, if they had an accident and the ETL was not functioning, can you imagine the swarms of lawyers and the media going after them because they allowed the flight to proceed without it?
Helicopters routinely fly at altitudes below adequate radar and even radio coverage, so they're often flying without the benefit of ATC services. In some parts of the country an ELT may be the only thing that brings attention to something has happened to them until the operator notices that they're overdue and gives SAR a place to start looking.
kadriver 1
You sir have not a clue. You sound like the person who wanted this dude to make the flight.
cparks 1
He has a clue. He understands that ELTs are an unreliable yet required safety device. Still I agree that this was the pilot's call.
Randy Marco -2
It's a great thing OSHA hasn't been gutted yet by the tea baggers, oh but I'm sure they would like to so employees are forced to work (fly in this case) in unsafe conditions!
The FAA makes the regulations, not OSHA. To bring the TEA party into this was moronic.
Mark Lansdell 1
Aaaaafirmative! Pilots are still regulated by the Labor Department even though FAA is the rule maker. The association works much like DOT and OSHA. Nevertheless, the TEA party which is not a party at all has nothing to do with the discussion. Look at OSHA as an enforcer.
This was also posted some time ago.


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