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Air Canada pilot threatened to ditch plane

March 18, 2010, Toronto - A judge has ruled an Air Canada jet never should have
been allowed to take off from Toronto's Pearson Airport after it became known that the pilot had threatened to "ditch'' his passenger-filled plane into the Atlantic Ocean on a previous flight.


March 18, 2010
By The Canadian Press

Four members of an Air Canada flight crew refused to fly with the unidentified pilot.

Another crew was assembled to do their jobs on an Aug. 24, 2008 flight from Pearson to Europe, court documents show.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the cabin crew members, went to court to appeal a decision by a health and safety officer, which allowed the flight to take off.

Mr. Justice John O'Keefe sided with the union and ruled the health and safety officer should not have allowed the fight to take off.

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Court heard four members of the crew refused to work because a flight attendant had told them that the pilot, on a previous trip, indicated that he was going to "ditch'' the aircraft and had "nothing to lose.''

"The captain had said he had nothing to lose and he was being fired anyway,'' the attendant told a health and safety officer, before refusing to fly with the pilot.

Court heard from Air Canada lawyers that the pilot was exceptional at his job.

"No one commented negatively about the captain and everyone stood by his ability to do his job,'' airline lawyers told O'Keefe.

The airline said the incident was sparked by a "conflict between captain and chief steward.''

"Crew and personal conflicts can arise at any time and we have a conflict resolution process for this type of situation,'' Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Wednesday.

"Health and safety is our top priority.''

He said the health and safety officer works for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and is independent of his airline and Transport Canada.

Fitzpatrick said the judge's decision means health and safety officers will have to conduct more thorough investigations, and not render quick decisions, in the future.