Morning Poll: Who Do You Believe in US Airways Dispute With Pilots Union?

A union representing pilots for Tempe-based US Airways took out a full-page ad in USA Today Friday, alleging the airline tried to intimidate a pilot into flying a malfunctioning airplane.

In total, the US Airways Pilots Association claims, six pilots refused to fly the aircraft before the airline agreed to fix the problem.

The female pilot who first refused to fly the plane, the union claims, was forced off the plane and "met by [the airline's] corporate security and escorted out of the airport."

Read the full story here.

US Airways, however, disputes the union's allegations, saying they're the product of bitter contract negotiations. Complicating things, US Airways COO Robert Issom says, is an intra-union seniority dispute that's been going on for several years.

"[Friday's] move is simply the latest in a series of misguided efforts to put pressure on the company as part of those negotiations," Issom says.

The airline forwarded New Times a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the June 16, incident, which you can see below:

The FAA manager assigned to the US Airways certificate reviewed the June 16, 2011 incident. The APU [auxiliary power unit] shutdown the aircraft experienced is a failure that pilots are well aware can happen and that they are trained to recognize. The battery apparently was depleted by attempts to restart the APU. Flying an aircraft with an inoperative APU is not an unusual event and normally poses no safety issues when proper limitations are applied. The captain simply chose to exercise her pilot-in-command authority of not accepting an aircraft. Our information indicates that US Airways followed their approved MEL procedures, and all maintenance procedures were followed in accordance with the operator's approved maintenance program. We found no violations of federal aviation regulations.

We want to which story you believe: the airline's or the pilots union's.

Cast your vote below.

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My Voice Nation Help

The issue is not that the APU was inoperative. The issue is that the captain, knowing the APU was inoperative, was unwilling to fly over the Atlantic at night when she discovered the backup system to the APU was not operating normally. Faced with one inop system, and a questionable backuo system, she refused the airplane. The company pressured her to fly it as it was, and she would not.

The six pilots probably refers to two crews of three pilots each. The two other crew members agreed with the captain, and refused to fly a questionable airplane. The  union says that the company had security escort the captain out of the airport so that she could not brief the replacement crew on the drama that had just occurred. When the replacement crew of three also refused to fly the plane, the company finally took a several hour delay and fixed it. 

The two key points are that management pressured a captain to fly a plane she thought was unsafe, and that they had security escort her off the field to keep her from briefing the the replacement crew. 

The response by Isom is a red herring. The issue has nothing to do with seniority, or contract negotiations.  The issue is that management is pressuring pilots to fly against their best judgment, in their quest for on time departures and the huge management bonuses that result from favorable statistics.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

The FAA is not biased in any way on any matter.  Anyone who says this is not true is a conspiracy theorist.   The idea that they can be biased has been debunked and discredited many times.    This is a non issue and anyone who disagrees has a mental condition and cannot be taken seriously.    Oh...and they are unpatriotic and support that terrorist Al K. Duh.

J Curwen
J Curwen

I really don't know one way or the other about the question posed.I do know that flying on US Air has not impressed me as a customer. I won't deliver a tirade, but I do avoid flying US Airways.


USAPA is a phony union, created for the sole purpose of getting out of an agreed upon binding arbitration.  The east pilots and west pilots and the company all agreed to live by the decision of an arbitrator in regards to seniority of the merged airline.  But, after the arbitrator made the decision, the east pilots didn't like it (they wanted their long furloughed, non working pilots to have more seniority than America West's working pilots).  The east pilots, with a 2 to 1 majority over the AWA pilots then created a new union (USAPA) in an attempt to dodge their responsibilities under the binding arbitration.  It was a pussy move by the east, and they are angry because they can't get their way (a jury found against the east, but they are gumming it up with repeals), so, they created this phoney "safety" issue because they can't find a way to legally screw over the America West pilots.  The planes are safe, ask the FAA, as for the East pilots?


If the Union was that bold to take out a full page add there must be some truth to this issue.  Why would they take the risk if there wasn't?


Some of those APU's are made here in Phoenix by Honeywell, aren't they?  Or maybe that's some of the work they have outsourced to Mexico.  In any case, planes take off and land all the time without a functional APU.  I know that because I found it on the Internet.

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