The complaint filed last week argues that discharging a
captain for reasonably exercising his authority has a
"chilling effect" on a pilot's ability to make decisions
concerning the safe operation of his aircraft.
It is clear this is what ABX intended.
To make sure this effect was felt by all its
captains, ABX took the extraordinary step of publicly
announcing this captain's firing, and why, to every
flight crew member it employs, even before the pilot
himself was officially notified.
To a larger
extent, that effect ripples throughout the industry
impacting aviation safety at a national level. The
Teamsters are seeking the reinstatement of the captain's
employment, as well as future protections for similarly
situated flight crews who are authorized to make
judgment calls pertaining to a flight's safety, or lack
"The Teamsters will use all of our resources to defend
and preserve a captain's authority," Teamsters Airline
Division Director David Bourne commented. "Within the
aviation industry, the captain's authority is the
keystone of safe and secure flight operations."
complaint was filed in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division by
the Dayton, Ohio law firm Doll, Jansen, Ford & Rakay. As
noted in the filing, the law governing air commerce
assigns the highest priority to safety, and entrusts the
pilot in command with the final authority and
responsibility for ensuring safe operations.
combination of several variables in the operating
environment led to safety concerns cited by the flight
crew, including the assignment of an alternate airport
not listed in the aircraft's onboard computer database
requiring the flight crew to manually calculate an
approach, a lack of preparation time, marginal weather,
and an inoperable fuel quantity indicator.
union maintains that the captain acted responsibly with
the information he had at hand. ABX Air's Flight
Operations Manual, as approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA), provides that in compliance with
Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and company
regulations, a captain is responsible for and is the
final authority for the aircraft's operation.