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Pilot fired for refusing unsafe flight awarded $2 million

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Pilot fired for refusing unsafe flight awarded $2 million

Old 27th Dec 2021, 02:27
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Pilot fired for refusing unsafe flight awarded $2 million

It makes you wonder why people are happy to fly in an aircraft when the pilot isn’t, details here and well done for sticking to your guns.



A corporate pilot who was fired after refusing to fly a trip he deemed unsafe has been awarded $1.99 million in damages after suing his former employer. Ray Justinic worked for the flight operations subsidiary of a property management company with a large hotel on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. He was asked to load the aircraft with construction and cleaning supplies and fly staff and insurance personnel to the island after Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, struck in September of 2017. The hotel was severely damaged by the storm. He then checked the weather and determined it was unsafe to make the trip. He told his employers he would monitor the weather and be ready to go early the next morning if conditions allowed.

The aircraft operators hired another pilot to take the trip the same night and a week later told Justinic he was fired. They then sued him for $20,000 to recover part of the cost of getting him typed in their aircraft. At that point Justinic decided to sue them back and a jury in Boone County, Kentucky, actually awarded him $300,000 more than he was asking. “Everybody’s been on a plane; everybody’s experienced unpredictable weather so in that respect this was a compelling case,” his lawyer Anthony Bucher
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Old 27th Dec 2021, 09:12
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The corporate aviation industry is well known for having its share of "it's my plane - you do as you're told" characters.

In some cases there are are people who will make a point of asserting their authority on point of policy - especially for junior or newer pilots (I'm guessing this guy may have been new to the unit if he was recently type rated?).

I'm pleased that in this case the Pilot has been vindicated. I also find it appropriate that the company has been punished for being vindictive - Reading between the lines if they had not sued him for the cost of his rating he might never have sued them for unfair dismissal.

There was a high profile accident in UK a few years ago where an owner with a track record of punishing pilots for saying no and pursuing them for training bonds when they were forced to leave was killed by two inexperienced pilots (he'd sacked all the experienced ones or they had quit)) who did not say "no" when they quite clearly should have done.

I'd like to think that this will be a lesson for some but I'm not that naive.

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Old 27th Dec 2021, 11:09
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Read the top link, it gives the whole story, he had recently retired from Delta at 65 and joined the company.

Justinic had close to 50 years of experience flying, first for law enforcement and then for Delta Airlines. According to FAA rules, pilots who reach age 65 can no longer fly large commercial airline jets, but they can continue to fly for private companies if their medical requirements are kept up-to-date. In January 2017, after retiring from Delta, he took a position flying a private plane for Columbia Sussex.
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Old 27th Dec 2021, 12:29
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Well done that man. The captain has the ultimate responsibility, therefore the ultimate authority. Luckily, never been in that position.
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Old 27th Dec 2021, 15:36
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I have. I refused to operate a Lisbon to Funchal flight once with the wind there gusting 50 knots across 23. The Lisbon Station Manager was most upset, citing he had a PPL and could read the TAF which “guaranteed” a one hour “window of opportunity” which would permit an attempted approach at our STA. I told him to stuff his PPL and advice where the sun doesn’t shine while we were en-route to an excellent Lisbon hotel for Dorada and a well earned rest. Even TAP cancelled their FNC flights that stormy night. My Duty Flight Ops Manager was very supportive of my decision and the LIS Station Manager found work elsewhere soon after.
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Old 27th Dec 2021, 19:05
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I’ve worked for a businessman who’s PA apparently knew more about aviation than the whole of the company’s aviation department….

She was also prone to claim “clear blue sky” at the office when it was in fact 100 metres in fog. Not that she sat near a window…..
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