Pilot Who Was Fired For Reporting Imbalanced Wheel Ten Times In Two Days Ordered Reinstated

By | January 18, 2012

On August 22, 2007, an AirTran pilot noted an imbalanced wheel on his plane.  Over the next two days, he filed 10 reports over this safety issue.

AirTran Airways Boeing 737

AirTran removed the pilot from flying on Aug. 23, 2007, the second day he was operating the plane with the loose wheel, which was taken out of service for repairs shortly thereafter, Mr. Rosa said. In a 17-minute hearing a month later, AirTran officials questioned the pilot about whether his reports were connected to ongoing union negotiations, Mr. Rosa said.

The pilot “said, ‘Maybe it’s because I’m just more diligent in reporting,’ ” Mr. Rosa said. “The company didn’t like that answer.”

AirTran fired the pilot a week later.

AirTran made two offers to settle with the pilot, but insisted he accept guilt for “excessive reporting”.  He refused, and OSHA has now ordered him reinstated with over $1 million in back pay and damages.

“Airline workers must be free to raise safety and security concerns, and companies that diminish those rights through intimidation or retaliation must be held accountable,” OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels said in a statement.