Apparently a "terse" writer
US Airways flight attendants spoke up - and face trial
By Simon Hradecky, created Thursday, Jan 29th 2009 18:16Z, last updated Friday, Jan 30th 2009 20:27Z
Three US Airways flight attendants are facing a law suit filed by their pilot collegue demanding 2 million US$ in compensation for defamation, after they spoke up before departure on Jan 24th 2003, when they noticed ice accumulation on the wings of their airplane, which was to perform flight America West HP-851 from Calgary,AB (Canada) to Phoenix,AZ (USA). It took the common effort of all three flight attendants and three attempts, before the flight crew unwillingly agreed to de-ice the airplane. The airplane reached Phoenix on time and without incident.
The flight attendants reported the case to the FAA, which dropped proceedings against the pilots in 2006 stating, that they couldn't substantiate the allegations even though that doesn't mean, that they wouldn't believe the flight attendants. The first officer, put in charge by the captain to decide about de-icing, hired an attorney to represent him before the FAA, which cost him around 21000 US$. The first officer filed a law suit requesting 2 million US$ from the flight attendants in 2006.
US Airways let the flight attendants know, that they are on their own for that law suit, and wouldn't carry the bills for legal representation, even though they were on duty and following required crew cooperation procedures to ensure safety of flight.
Unknown to the flight attendants, Calgary Airport had filed an irregularity report as well, as ground staff had observed contamination of the wings and approached the flight crew asking, whether de-icing would be needed and received a blunt no.
The first officer admitted in a court deposition into the trial against the flight attendants, that there was frost on the wings of the aircraft indeed, but denied, that they were approached by the flight attendants until after having pushed back.
Contaminated wings have been cause of many crashes in the past. It is therefore required, that wings must be free from any contamination before takeoff.
The Aviation Herald has grave concerns about the repercussions, that this lawsuit filed by the first officer has with regards to future safety of flights.
Which flight attendant or passenger would dare to speak up in the future and insist, that rules are being followed for example on de-icing, if possible "retaliatory action" by flight crew is to be feared?
Would any flight by such a pilot in the future be safe at all, as he appears to have effectively shut down any query of/contradiction to his actions in the future? Where are the principles of Crew Resource Management and Safety First?
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told The Aviation Herald seeking additional comment on the questions above, that the FAA has no authority over civil lawsuits even though safety issues may be touched, which also means, that the whistleblower act does not apply to civil lawsuits. The FAA will not follow up on this matter due to lack of legal authority, concluding "filing a civil lawsuit does not violate any Federal Aviation Regulation."