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Fired for refusal to fly through ash cloud

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Fired for refusal to fly through ash cloud

Old 14th May 2010, 21:34
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Angry Fired for refusal to fly through ash cloud

A captain for Spanish airline Vueling, owned by Spanish flag carrier Iberia, was fired today after being deemed unprofessional for refusing flights through the volcanic ash cloud that has plagued the European airline industry since April. His contract was terminated after he made the decision not to operate flights out of Barcelona, Spain- air space that was contaminated by volcanic ash- this week due to safety reasons. He has been a pilot since 1992 and has been flying for Vueling for four years. His decision not to fly through space contaminated by volcanic ash is sound, based on thorough research of all available means and stands up for passengers rights to safety. He put safety first which resulted in him being a target for management with an agenda dictated by things like on-time statistics and profit. It is the Captain's belief that the company made an example of him and wanted to send a message to other pilots. The public should be aware of the message that this airline is sending to their fleet of pilots; make sound decisions based on the safety of passengers and crew and get fired?
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Old 14th May 2010, 22:26
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Ridiculous! if that is true

why all of the threads about command decision lately ...is it really that bad these days?
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Old 14th May 2010, 22:51
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Yes, sad but true. I have the paperwork to prove it. You will see this in the news shortly. Thanks for your support.
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Old 14th May 2010, 22:54
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I've been operating in that area, and am nearby now...there's no ash cloud.

Don't sensationalize the issue if there's no issue to sensationalize.

Driver320, you began your post as though you were talking about another person. You're really talking about yourself? You're the captain in question?

You refer to the captain (you?) having obtained information on the ash through "private research" or study, is this correct? Not satisfied with the weather information you received, you've gone elsewhere, come to your own conclusions beyond that which was given you, and you're upset at being fired for refusing flights?

Many of us have been safely operating throughout the region precisely because we're not in the "ash cloud." Not you?
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Old 14th May 2010, 23:06
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tienes que explicar mas ahora... [more explanation]

was there a reported ash cloud interfering with your flight enroute, at destination..?

I still think a commander's authority to refuse flights is sacred,...but why the third person narrative? I did not know 'him' meant 'you'
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Old 14th May 2010, 23:07
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Did other flights operated at that time? Was airspace open? If yes I don't see why he shouldn't be fired.
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Old 14th May 2010, 23:12
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Whether its a "him"/"Her" or "you"...I still think that PIC's decision is final ... no one should ever be penalized for being "extra-cautious"
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Old 14th May 2010, 23:37
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It is amazing how many pilots jump at the opportunity to attack your fellow colleagues! What happened to the solidarity that once graced this profession?
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Old 14th May 2010, 23:58
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I'm no test pilot, but if everyone else was flying, I'd be happy to.

Silly to lose your job for this. Different if you had even a hint of actual trouble.

Over active imagination is not a good thing in a pilot.
Old 15th May 2010, 01:11
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Captain's decision is/should be final and supported by all, including management, if they are interested in running a first class operation.

Unfortunately the days of strong unions must be over everywhere.
Best of luck to him, hopefully there will be enough support for him to clear his name.

Full circle back to the "Captain's Authority Questions" thread, I suppose..
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Old 15th May 2010, 07:39
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Nobody has questioned the authority of the pilot in command, here. However, the notion that the authority of the PIC is absolute in all things is simply not true.

If a pilot makes a safety of flight decision, he or she is within his or her discretion, but is always subject to review after the fact. Always. Pilots have lost their certificates in times past for improper reactions, and for creating a bigger emergency than the one that existed. Simply being PIC does not mean one has carte blanche authority to do as one pleases.

If one can make a flight for example, but simply doesn't wish to do so, doesn't excuse one from the refusal to make the flight. PIC or not. If one feels that one is privy to evidence that the company doesn't have, then one had better provide that information to the company, or take the flight...or risk one's career and in refusing to do so.

One may take emergency action only so far as necessary to meet the needs of the emergency. If one is faced with taking flights that are scheduled, one had better be able to prove one's reasoning, if one refuses. The original poster claims he has proof. This sounds very much like a legal issue...so why is he trying to garner sympathy on a public rumor board? Get an attorney.

Do u know his routing? Maybe his area of operation is indeed affected?
I don't, and didn't say that I did. Perhaps the area of his operation was affected. Perhaps the airline had no reason for firing him for refusing to fly there. Perhaps he has a case. Perhaps he should get an attorney and fight the company over the matter. Perhaps he should refrain from publicly airing the details of a legal case.

Personally, I've been flying throughout the area affected by the volcano since it began; I flew in during the volcano before the airspace was closed, and found everything was being grounded as we approached to land. I kept flying and operating, and in fact two days ago took photographs of the volcano itself. At the moment I'm situationed just a short distance from where the original poster stated the events occurred...Barcelona. Do I know his routing, you ask? The original poster stated "His contract was terminated after he made the decision not to operate flights out of Barcelona, Spain- air space that was contaminated by volcanic ash- this week due to safety reasons." Perhaps you failed to note this. I'm here now, and still flying. You're not?

It is amazing how many pilots jump at the opportunity to attack your fellow colleagues! What happened to the solidarity that once graced this profession?
There has never been "solidarity" in this business. Nor should there be.

Nobody attacked this pilot. The pilot should not be posting his or her case on the internet unless directed to do so by his attorney...and an attorney isn't going to recommend that course of action.

I can think of a long string of dead pilots who did things they shouldn't. Would one engage in enough "solidarity" to defend them in their actions, were they alive today? Hardly. Foolish acts give us all a bad name.

We have a one-sided story here with little information given. I certainly have no need of solidarity with a one-sided story with no information. I can make observations about what's given, however, and here we are.

Barcelona was closed in northern Spain this last week, along with a number of other airports. Operation in or out of these locations wasn't a pilot discretion issue; the flights didn't fly, period.

Is the original poster, or the "friend" who whom he refers, asserting that the firing took place due to a refusal to fly out of a closed airport? A refusal to fly after the fields were opened? A refusal to fly based on his own weather information, rather than official sources that showed the airspace eventually open? We don't know, and the original poster (et al) hasn't elected to inform us.

I can tell you I've quit jobs before when I wouldn't compromise my professional position on a safety issue, and will do it again in a heartbeat. Perhaps that's what happened here. I can also tell you that I didn't get on the internet and begin crowing about how wronged I'd been, if indeed such was the case here.
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:06
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Unfortunately, this is exactly one of the outcomes I feared would happen under the present circumstances.

These are, that the decision to close or not close an airspace is placed into the hands of the countries. Just a few days ago we had ash concentrations exceeding the recently stipulated manufacturer's limitations in Spain, Southern France and Northern Italy. Spain and Italy closed parts of their airspaces, France only issued a Notam reminding pilots and operators to check information available and determine themselves whether or not it's safe to operate on a given routing.

There was a discussion on the subject here on PPRuNe (now moved to the 'Volcanic Ash threatens Air Traffic' thread), where some expressed their concerns about this. If a country doesn't close airspace inspite of evidence that it is not safe to fly, flights will take place. Reasons?

- Commercial pressures on operators
- Operator pressure on pilots
- Lack of familiarity with the subject in operators and pilots
- Failure to check relevant Ash Warnings and Concentration Charts

Truth is, now the bucket stops with the PIC. If he does is job right and sees that he's supposed to fly through areas that exceed limitations, what other choice does he have but to ask for a rerouting, or if not possible, delay or cancel the flight? Seriously, the argument that everybody else has flown and nothing has evidently happened, is ridiculous. It has been said here before that this is foolish, just like yeah, everybody's been fine landing with the CB's near, so why worry?

If the captain who's been fired has sound evidence to support his decision (ash concentration charts of the time and relevant for the routing, etc.), there should be no question that his dismissal was illegal and that he should be reinstated. Further, this would be a case for the Spanish CAA/EASA to look into the practice of pressuring PIC's at one of their airlines.

After all, Spain did close airspace, not without reason.
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:08
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Here we go again ASH!

No one has ever lost their lives due to an encounter with ash polluted air heavy or light (unless they smoke) and that is over 50 years in aviation history.
Maybe Volcanos are something new???

Pilots and PAX have lost their lives due to takeoff and landing in windy and turbulent conditions with shear. They have done so by flying into flocks of birds and sea birds. They have in thunderstorm encounters, Ice, etc etc etc.

As long as the flight was in conditions which met the new ash criteria I am not surprised he was dismissed as it comes over as trouble making more than a safety issue.

Next this pilot will refuse to fly in the bird migration season or into coastal airports on safety grounds Aircraft have been downed flying into birds on numerous occasions but as yet not into ash


Last edited by Pace; 15th May 2010 at 08:22.
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:08
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Have to agree with SNS Guppy

Unfortunately I've seen a small number of pilot's use the "safety" card when they just didn't want to fly for a number of reasons.

While we never want to undermine the PIC's authority, pilots are employed for their professional judgement as much as flying ability.

Part of that judgment is the knowledge when it is safe to go and when not, and it's always a compromise of safety versus commercial outcome.
Let's face it...if one were to ONLY use safety, then we would never even start the engines. However, commercial realities vs risk says that we can manage it provided procedures are followed.
There was probably no reason to refuse the flight as others were obviously going with little if any issues, therefore the refusal to fly has to be taken in that context.
If there was en route risk, why wasn't an alternate route proposed. That is where the judgment of the PIC is paramount.
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:25
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As long as the flight was in conditions which met the new ash criteria I am not surprised he was dismissed as it comes over as trouble making more than safty issues.
What if the flight was supposed to take place through airspace that didn't meet those criteria? As I said in my post above, not all countries closed their airspace but left this to operators and pilots to decide.

Would you still say this is trouble making?

Even though you are probably right in saying there hasn't been a loss of life, but what option do you have when you have bulletins from the manufacturers with established criteria, and they say it's not safe to pass through a higher than certain concentration? Do you have better knowledge than them? Do you go below a minimum because you know better?


Last edited by Kerosene; 15th May 2010 at 08:27. Reason: grammar
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:35
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Where have I ever recommended operating in ASH which is known to be higher than the new ash criteria levels?

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Old 15th May 2010, 08:41
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Despite there are some isolated arguments I agree with you , it`s clear to see that you are one of those pilots which believe yourself better than others and in which no one can rely on.

It`s because of guys like you ,that one day is moved up to a chief pilot position or equivalent and or with some power that one Captain nowadays is fired overnight for beeing maybe "extra cautious".

To me is not important at all to know if the topic was opened by the Capt. himself, father , friend or sister.To me what really worries me is the fact of a Capt.beeing fired because of a Capt`s decision.Good or wrong.

It`s also because there are guys like you ,that maybe are not chiefs yet (but eager to be believing themselves with competence to) that the unions are losing power and we find ourselves beeing fired without even beeing questioned about.

I`ve been in Clickair before it merged with Vueling.And I can say that I had never seen or heard about one job where so many Capts were fired overnight for stupid issues. The environment there, was of terror,created by incompetent chiefs and one of the worst trainings departments I`ve ever seen in my life.
I was instructor there and quit.One year after I left the company for greener pastures.

There are lots of crap jobs around. Fortunately I quit and I`m well today. But not everybody has the same chance , because of experience , family issues , etc ,etc.

Unfortunately this profession is no longer a profession of gentleman.This is a profession of starving dogs fighting to....keep their ego as high as they can.
And to achieve this , evrything is valid!!! Becoming a chief is the first one and the ultimate goal of this dogs. But to reach there ....they have to kill a lot of coleagues....

I`m 39 , but eager to have 55 and leave this crap world dominated by Sh#$%y chiefs which to keep their position are day by day selling their coleagues and profession to the comercial interests imposed by the modern generation of bean counters.

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Old 15th May 2010, 08:55
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Why don't you just elaborate on the story, give us a few more facts. SNS3Guppy is saying he would not offer any support until the full story is known.

If I refuse to fly due to LVP's being in force.....is that a sackable offence? Surely it is my decision as the commander.....not forgetting that I have the safety of the pax in mind, as I feel it is much safer to fly on days that are cavok!
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:57
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Volcani Ash

Guppy....You are full of your self.

I've been a Captain worldwide for 19 years and cannot say that I would speak like you. You are so hot? This guy had an an issue with volcanic ash. How many times in your life do show up to dispatch and deal with volcanic ash? All I know is the video in training about the BA that flamed out all four engines, have you seen it? All I know in my measly 15000 hours is that I have never experienced that and would not want to. WOW I guess that makes me inexperienced, and probably this guy too. If you have the tips of how to fly volcanic ash please do pass it on to the inexperienced so we can learn from you and not get fired by making a safety call.

just take that to your sleep.
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Old 15th May 2010, 09:12
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Fired Spaniard for refusing to swallow volcanic ashes...

First my sympathies go to the skipper and his family...I trust he has contingencies planned for this.

I flew with a company that was like that.They forced me to fly for two weeks whilst limping due to a knee injury and their 'chieftain' even refused to look at my sick note from a well known orthopoedic specialist...God forbid had an engine faiure develop at a critical stage when I was flying the plane...I was a co and yes...i was given sometimes 7 sectors per day!

The best treatment for such cowboys i suggest is to force down their throat a taste of their own medicine.Yes...do fly, as far as you can get, even hold whilst 'deciding' what to do next...then just do a 180 if you already have an idea how far you can go from sat weather etc.. and come home to their chagrin and let them foot the bill and the pandemonium from passengers denied of their service due to...well we can save the rest! What reasons can they fire you for then...you did fly...and you decided based on SAFETY and am sure SOP(IF THEY HAVE OR FOLLOW EM) to divert back...or better still to an enroute destination!THAT'LL TEACHEM A LESSON!!!!!!!!!!
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