US Airways: Pilots' Union's Claims of Intimidation "Outlandish"

Following our post yesterday about a claim by the US Airways pilots union that the airline tried to intimidate a pilot into flying a malfunctioning plane, the airline got back to us and calls the claim "outlandish."

On Friday, the US Airways Pilots Association ran a full page ad in USA Today outlining a June incident where the airline allegedly tried to intimidate a female pilot into flying a malfunctioning plane.

According to the union, a total of six pilots refused to fly the aircraft before the airline agreed to fix the problem.

The female pilot who first refused to fly the plane, the union claims, was forced off the plane and "met by [the airline's] corporate security and escorted out of the airport."

Read the full story here.

The airline disputes the union's allegations, saying they're the product of bitter contract negotiations. Complicating things, US Airways COO Robert Issom says, is an intra-union seniority dispute that's been going on for several years.

"[Friday's] move is simply the latest in a series of misguided efforts to put pressure on the company as part of those negotiations," Issom says.

The airline forwarded New Times a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the June 16, incident.

See the FAA's statement below:

The FAA manager assigned to the US Airways certificate reviewed the June 16, 2011 incident. The APU [auxiliary power unit] shutdown the aircraft experienced is a failure that pilots are well aware can happen and that they are trained to recognize. The battery apparently was depleted by attempts to restart the APU. Flying an aircraft with an inoperative APU is not an unusual event and normally poses no safety issues when proper limitations are applied. The captain simply chose to exercise her pilot-in-command authority of not accepting an aircraft. Our information indicates that US Airways followed their approved MEL procedures, and all maintenance procedures were followed in accordance with the operator's approved maintenance program. We found no violations of federal aviation regulations.

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James King
Contact: James King