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Easyjet pilot grounded for whatsapp message to friends

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Easyjet pilot grounded for whatsapp message to friends

Old 29th Aug 2019, 16:33
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Originally Posted by krismiler View Post
Once proprietary information is shared outside the company’s control,
But was this WhatsApp post proprietary company information? It was something about his mental state that he shared with friends. Possibly not during working hours or on company property.

WhatsApp may be getting a raw deal here. What would one expect if a pilot shared his depression with a buddy over a pint at the pub? And his buddy subsequently called the airline and shared his concern?

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Old 29th Aug 2019, 16:57
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I'm kind of shocked that there are "two sides" to this discussion. I think that the action taken by everybody in this situation was appropriate, the pilot's comments should be taken at least as seriously as a passenger who makes a 'joke' at the checkpoint where we all have to take off our shoes and be virtually stripped.

Flying is a different sort of job and not everybody can do it. There are very few jobs where you can affect so many lives so quickly, and pilots should be held to a much higher standard of physical and mental health than stockbrokers, computer programmers, or even ship's captains. There are millions of people who are affected by epilepsy (which in many cases is treatable) who are valuable, smart, productive citizens but probably not the best choice for a job where crisis involves multiple flashing lights. I understand that the vast majority of people with mental health issues are not a danger to themselves or others, and the vast majority of people who have some form of suicidal ideation are not going to be mass murderers. However, flying is a job where the consequences of putting the wrong person in the pointy end are severe enough to outweigh whatever moral injustice comes from discriminating against people with mental illness.

To answer the question about flying with somebody with treatable schizophrenia, the answer is "certainly not!" The drugs used to treat schizophrenia are precisely the sort of drugs that one should not take while flying!

Psychology is an inexact science, many would argue that it is not a science at all (disclaimer, my parents were psychologists and I studied it fairly seriously in college as a career path.) Perhaps someday we will know enough about humans to know when somebody who is serious enough about suicide to talk about it with friends is actually at risk of committing suicide (perhaps with a bunch of people unwillingly along for the ride) but the research indicates that we are not there yet.
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Old 29th Aug 2019, 17:00
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“Over a pint in the pub,” with a mate. As a mate I would not be liable for any future incident in the way the company would, so I would hear his story and decide wether his state of mind was a risk. If it was just depression and feeling down due to relationship issues for instance I wouldn’t take any action, if he was in a serious state and talking about suicide, he would be advised to stop flying and sort his issues out.
If I was a fellow pilot I would keep close contact with him, ultimately if I thought he was a risk I would blow the whistle.
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Old 29th Aug 2019, 20:53
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Originally Posted by Small cog View Post
If a person has suggested they are feeling suicidal; it’s a cry for help. What they do not need is an amateur psychiatrist who is unable to provide the skilled help required.
This is a good point. On the other hand, we should give some credit to a buddy sharing a pint who can read emotional clues and toss out what might have been a flippant remark. Not so easy to do when the message comes in as plain text. Maybe lacking an obligatory wink emoticon. This sort of thing would be way above my amateur psychiatrist's pay grade. Particularly where numerous lives might be at stake.
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Old 29th Aug 2019, 22:23
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Originally Posted by Black Pudding View Post


The company I work for class any WhatsApp messages sent to a group of 2 or more as social media. We have had colleague Get into bother because of messages being sent on WhatsApp groups.
So a group text between 3 people is social media?
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 03:07
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Whilst undertaking a training Captain course, we students were told that should any psychological problems emerge with our trainees we were "not to go there" and to tell them to seek professional help. Issues such as past abuse or alcoholism could come to light and we could easily make things worse by having a go at a problem we weren't trained to deal with.

Talking once seriously, or a few times jokingly about suicide means that person needs help and it's up to mental health professionals to provide that help. Immediate grounding is the only option for a pilot and it's up to the medical department to take it from there.
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 09:32
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Originally Posted by hans brinker View Post
So a group text between 3 people is social media?

Correct.

Social media is a website or application that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. After Facebook the second most popular social media app is WhatsApp. This forum is ‘social media’ as are blogging platforms like Wordpress, and image sharing sites like Instagram.

As has been pointed out a private conversation can easily become public, be it WhatsApp or email, through intentional or unintentional action. Therefore don’t post pissed, and think before you hit ‘send’, once it’s left your phone/PC/tablet you have no control over that data at all.

With any such discussions regarding health and similar personal information, you need to treat it as you would your bank account details and passwords. It’s very easy to be blasé about the likes of Facebook and the information you’re potentially sending to the world using it, you can read it in this thread. Social media is incredibly useful, and potentially very damaging used carelessly. As an example, any of you whom have used the private message system here to discuss events or possibly individuals, you have no guarantee that information won’t be reposted for example by the recipient, here or elsewhere.

Think before you post!
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 09:53
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Originally Posted by jumpseater View Post
As has been pointed out a private conversation can easily become public, be it WhatsApp or email, through intentional or unintentional action. Therefore don’t post pissed, and think before you hit ‘send’, once it’s left your phone/PC/tablet you have no control over that data at all.
Rather far fetched definition. With that every phone call, text, conversation is basically social media. All of those can be recorded and shared publicly. There is a difference between the whole world with Facebook, or just two carefully chosen recipients with either a phone call, text, whatsapp message, or even snail mail. Of course, the Whatsapp status is quite different, as anybody who has your phone number in their contacts can read that.
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 10:25
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Originally Posted by Denti View Post
Rather far fetched definition. With that every phone call, text, conversation is basically social media. All of those can be recorded and shared publicly. There is a difference between the whole world with Facebook, or just two carefully chosen recipients with either a phone call, text, whatsapp message, or even snail mail. Of course, the Whatsapp status is quite different, as anybody who has your phone number in their contacts can read that.
Not far fetched at all. The ability to record, retain and publish ‘media’ images, words, sound is evolving rapidly. A few years back a phone call was just that, no record apart from number dialled and duration, I’m aware of a person who now records all his calls via an app. As he’s in law enforcement it’s been useful when some of his ‘clients’ have called him! The UK law society has practice guidelines here https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/suppor.../social-media/ possibly useful reading for some people to understand the implications of today’s technology if used inappropriately or maliciously, and to appreciate what ‘social media’ encompasses.

NB for context I occasionally do media/journalistic work.
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 14:44
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Well, to be clear, with that definition everything we do and say is social media. And in a way it is. Now, that removes freedom of speech because everything, no matter what and in what circumstances, can be used against you. Be it in jest, being out after a few drinks, or enjoying a nice night with company.

I guess in the UK people are a lot more relaxed about stuff like that than elsewhere. In germany recording calls without expressive consent of all participants is illegal and can land you behind bars (and in that case out of a job as pilot, even if it is only a suspended sentence you would not be allowed to go airside. Whatsapp messages are actually protected by the same kind of law, however, larger groups (certainly not 3) would be seen as either public or limited public statements. Even normal ATC radio is protected and listening to it without any need is actually illegal, broadcasting ATC radio via the internet will be shutdown and possibly prosecuted by a government agency.

That said, someone mentioning to friends that he is suicidal should be pointed very directly to the relevant professional help, and in case of pilots that is of course the mandatory peer to peer program that protect the job while things get sorted out without the company knowing what exactly is the issue.
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 19:34
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Originally Posted by jumpseater View Post


Not far fetched at all. The ability to record, retain and publish ‘media’ images, words, sound is evolving rapidly. A few years back a phone call was just that, no record apart from number dialled and duration, I’m aware of a person who now records all his calls via an app. As he’s in law enforcement it’s been useful when some of his ‘clients’ have called him! The UK law society has practice guidelines here https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/suppor.../social-media/ possibly useful reading for some people to understand the implications of today’s technology if used inappropriately or maliciously, and to appreciate what ‘social media’ encompasses.

NB for context I occasionally do media/journalistic work.
From the website you quote:

Social media are web-based and mobile technologies that turn communication into active dialogue. There are many different types of social media channels, which attract specific audiences for different purposes. These include:
  • forums and comment spaces on information-based websites, for example BBC Have Your Say, the Law Society Gazette or Roll on Friday
  • social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn
  • video and photo sharing websites such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube
  • weblogs, including corporate and personal blogs
  • micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and Tumblr
  • forums and discussion boards such as Yahoo! Groups or Google Groups
  • online wikis that allow collaborative information sharing such as Wikipedia
  • any other websites that allow individual users or companies to publishing or share content with other users.
Suspiciously absent are text and WhatsApp. I know the reason: IT IS NOT SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!
If you address your message at a specific person, or a few select persons it is not SOCIAL MEDIA. Of course your media could end up on the whole internet, but what you are saying is regular snail mail is social media just because you scanned and posted your grandma's birthday card.
Intent of wider distribution is required for the social part to apply.


NB for context I occasionally think.


(sorry for the screaming)
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 22:14
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Originally Posted by Sobelena View Post
For those who advocate that after good councelling he could go back on the line, I have this question: Would you feel comfortable to fly (both as crew or pax) with a pilot who has a mental history? In truth it's quite a dilemma for the airline.
Yes. And I often do.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 03:41
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Originally Posted by Fursty Ferret View Post
Yes. And I often do.
That doesn't give me a good feeling about flying, which I have to in a few weeks.
I won't go into details but a family friend who is a brilliant psychologist had a patient who became famous for all of the wrong reasons.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 03:56
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Originally Posted by Fursty Ferret View Post
Yes. And I often do.
I will have to disagree. The risk is just not worth it. Even if the chance of something happening is extremely low, for aviation that is probably still high. Fatal accidents are down to 60 per TRILLION passenger revenue kilometer. Having a known risk allowed to continue is not the right thing. I feel bad for the pilots affected by mental health issues, but our job is probably the worst for risk of injury or death to other people in case of mishaps due to mental health. If the eurowings guy would have had pretty much any other job, he would have been the only fatality.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 06:44
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Originally Posted by Denti View Post
Well, to be clear, with that definition everything we do and say is social media. And in a way it is. Now, that removes freedom of speech because everything, no matter what and in what circumstances, can be used against you. Be it in jest, being out after a few drinks, or enjoying a nice night with company.

I guess in the UK people are a lot more relaxed about stuff like that than elsewhere. In germany recording calls without expressive consent of all participants is illegal and can land you behind bars (and in that case out of a job as pilot, even if it is only a suspended sentence you would not be allowed to go airside. Whatsapp messages are actually protected by the same kind of law, however, larger groups (certainly not 3) would be seen as either public or limited public statements. Even normal ATC radio is protected and listening to it without any need is actually illegal, broadcasting ATC radio via the internet will be shutdown and possibly prosecuted by a government agency.

That said, someone mentioning to friends that he is suicidal should be pointed very directly to the relevant professional help, and in case of pilots that is of course the mandatory peer to peer program that protect the job while things get sorted out without the company knowing what exactly is the issue.
Denti, we are very similar with the legal aspects of call recording and ATC recording in the UK too, I don't know the specifics of my police contact and their personal recordings, but I have no reason to doubt he was being truthful, he does interesting work. I agree the crew member concerned hopefully is getting the support required, it would be a real shame if this were an off the cuff comment taken out of context, but it does show the potential impact of using social media platforms whichever form they take.

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Old 31st Aug 2019, 07:07
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WhatsApp is very useful for private messages between individuals or small groups it is secure , there is no point in using WhatsApp if you want large number of recipients to see the message. Other contacts in your address book cannot see the message, the only way it can be seen by others is if they gain access to your smartphone.
Do remember you are putting your trust in the recipient, forward, copy and paste can be used to send the message to others, which is probably what happened
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 07:28
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Originally Posted by Sobelena View Post
For those who advocate that after good councelling he could go back on the line, I have this question: Would you feel comfortable to fly (both as crew or pax) with a pilot who has a mental history? In truth it's quite a dilemma for the airline.
Damn straight, I would. And why such an emphatic answer? Because said colleague would feel comfortable raising a potential mental health issue as they have had counselling for it before, and not only kept flying, but kept their job. So they know 'the system' works and has helped them before, so they will seek help again if they need to. What scares me more are (in order) tired pilots, and those that have issues but can't or won't declare them or seek help for fear of losing their licence or job.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 10:28
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Jumpseater, for some purposes WhatsApp might count as social media, but the security model is totally different--which is why it, and the similar Telegram, are popular with people who do NOT want their communications becoming public, for good and bad reasons.

Sure, if you tell someone something on WhatsApp, they might spread the news. But the same applies to information sent over a secure company email system. It's a human issue, not a tech one. Currently, it is being suggested that the President of the United States may have shared a classified satellite image on Twitter. Twitter sure is social media, but the escape of information (if there was one) happened from a US Government communication system which is, presumably, intended to be secure and not social media at all, and it was not the government official who put it on the Govt system who was responsible for the dissemination of information.

This is a basic distinction, and no amount of general discussion of digital media will change the fact that WhatsApp is designed to be, and is fairly successfully implemented to be, a private means of communication to limited groups of participants, who have to be permitted to join by the owner of the group. It only begins to look like social media if you post private communications to a group owned by the Burnley Pigeon Fanciers Society, and if you do that you probably print out work emails and leave them in the pub.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 19:29
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Originally Posted by FlightlessParrot View Post
Jumpseater, for some purposes WhatsApp might count as social media, but the security model is totally different--which is why it, and the similar Telegram, are popular with people who do NOT want their communications becoming public, for good and bad reasons..
One thing that is actually true is that one tiny part of Whatsapp is public and could therefore be considered social media in the way that you put out a public statement without knowing who can read it: the status. So all those videos, memes and pictures people put in there, can be read by anyone who has the number of the poster. No matter if they know each other, if the sender ever gave his number etc. But i do agree, the message part is largely not social media although large groups could be put into that category as they are quite often along social structures (school year, family, work group etc). However, even there you know who is in the group and you can moderate your language and information disclosure accordingly. Just from someone who managed chat groups with a few hundreds members, whatsapp is really not a good tool for that, use Telegram, much better administration options and ease of use, not to mention it is not limited at 255 members, but of course less safety as it does not have end-to-end encryption.

In contrast, putting something on Twitter, Facebook or even on the status within whatsapp is not controlled at all. With a single tweet Trump publicly confirmed the specs of the KH 12 series of spy satellites and their capabilities because of course that picture (showing a mishap at an iranian space launch site) was analyzed within minutes offering quite juicy information for those of us who are space nerds. Which is of course a nice example of disclosing formerly classified information to the whole world.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 19:45
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Not a professional pilot, but had worked with a with a colleague who had mental health problems, until he got early retirement for health issues. He was never suicidal. He was sometimes awkward. As a pax I wouldn't worry too much about many mental health issues.
But suicidal (or having a grudge against humanity) as an adult is different for flightdeck. I'd prefer not.
I wouldn't be so bothered about an actual suicide attempt in early teens.
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