Pilot sues flight attendants over safety

Three Phoenix-based flight attendants are in the unusual position of defending themselves from pilot-instigated litigation. Of course, they deserve it. I mean, what would you do when people responsible for passenger safety report safety concerns to federal regulators? Either you can fix a problem or you can sue. Since the pilot is obviously a proud American, he chose the latter course. And, he’s now proving his patriotism by messing with the media.

America West Flight 851 was about to leave Calgary, Alberta back in 2003. The flight attendants were worried about frost on the wings, but the pilots saw no need to de-ice before take-off. Eventually, the guys at the front of the plane gave in, but the flight attendants were worried enough by the incident to report it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Looking back on the crash in Buffalo a little over a week ago, this looks like a decent idea.

First Officer Ed Gannon didn’t see it that way, even after he was cleared by the FAA (which offered to pick up the tab for some of his legal fees).

Now, I am somewhat sympathetic to Gannon (sorry, Heather). I’m not plane-savvy enough to know if the FAs had a good point or if they were intruding on the pilot’s turf. Even though the FAA cleared the guy, he still had his life at least inconvenienced by the flight attendants. And, let’s be realistic. Being sued is not something you can just brush off.

Assume you feel you’ve done nothing wrong, and you have to spend thousands of dollars to make that point. Yeah, you’d be pissed. You’d want a bit of payback.
If Gannon wanted to make a point, filing the suit was enough. The fact that the judge tossed out some of his arguments (including “infliction of emotional distress”) suggests that he shouldn’t push too hard (the defamation bit is still in play). Instead, however, he’s upping the ante.

The seemingly wronged pilot has subpoenaed reporters’ notes from the Phoenix New Times, not to mention any documents supplied by the flight attendants who are being sued. Gannon has also gone after the FAs’ blog, hunting for information about the people who have posted comments on the site.

Imagine getting a call from a lawyer because you posted a comment on this story … scary, isn’t it?

Gannon’s made his point. It’s time for him to put all this in the past (hell, it happened six years ago). If you feel strongly about this, consider a contribution to the FAs’ legal defense fund.

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