Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are airline pilots losing jobs because they complained?

Please Watch This KHOU CBS News Clip:

Are airline pilots losing jobs because they complained?

06:52 PM CDT on Thursday, August 6, 2009

By Brad Woodard / 11 News

HOUSTON—The federal courthouse in downtown Houston has seen more than its share of big names, but chances are you’ve never heard the name Newton Dickson.

He’s one of several pilots from various airlines who say they’ve lost their careers because they complained about everything from management to safety issues.
In fact, for three days now, a drama has quietly unfolded in a courtroom on loan to an NTSB judge.

Gregory Winton is Dickson’s attorney.

“The FAA uses this procedure to pull captains out of the cockpit at least the airlines do and the FAA supports it,” said Winton.

Dickson wasn’t a captain yet but he was a first officer for Continental Airlines until 2004. In April of that year, he says he tripped in a London restaurant and hit his head on a table. A woman at the restaurant called an ambulance, said Winton.

“She says a man stood up, fell and is shivering. When asked if he were conscious, the woman hands the phone to a bystander who is a customer of the restaurant and he confirms Mr. Dickson is breathing and conscious, and bleeding a little bit from the nose,” said Winton.

Dickson was taken to a hospital and released the next day. He was cleared to fly by an airman medical examiner. He was back in the cockpit within a month.

But, while flying from Vegas to Houston, Dickson says the captain who was supposed to be training him threw a temper tantrum. Dickson, who had a clean medical certificate issued by the FAA, says he complained to the airline.

“Continental decided, on their own, they would send him to a third party contractor who’d known as their fitness duty evaluator,” said Winton.

Michael A. Berry conducted the evaluation. He concluded that Dickson hadn’t just tripped in London, but that he had suffered a seizure followed by a disturbance of consciousness during the flight from Vegas. The diagnosis, Dickson said, meant that his career was over.

No decision has been made in Dickson's case.

Continental Airlines officials would not comment on the case saying it is a personnel issue.

Support Newton Dickson!

Dr. Janet Parker Blog Talk Radio Show

This Saturday evening at 5pm Central Daylight Time, former Continental Airlines pilot Newton Dickson and United Airlines Captain Dan Hanley will join host Dr. Janet Parker on her Medical Whistleblower Blog Talk Radio Show. Call-ins are welcome, especially from airline employees who have been terminated at airlines via an airline-forced medical or psychiatric evaluation for having spoken out on issues of safety. Please tune in to show your support for Mr. Dickson, while expressing your outrage to your congressional representatives. Your senators may be contacted here and your representatives here. This is all about airline passenger and aircrew safety.

Please pass this email on to your family, friends, and neighbors!

Call-in Number: (347) 857-4599

The traveling public owe their safety in the air to those who behind the scenes maintain air flight safety. We will be talking today about how pilots are responsible to report issues of airplane maintenance and safety and what happens when they do. The Colgan Air Flight 3407 departed late from Newark on February 12, 2009, at 9:20 p.m. EST. Shortly after the last communication by the flight crew with approach control at 10:11 p.m. (03:11, February 13 UTC), the plane stalled less than a mile northeast of the Outer Marker while on an ILS approach to Runway 23 and crashed into a house in the northeast Buffalo suburb of Clarence Center. Could this plane disaster have been avoided if only airline management listen to the whistleblowers? Listen to these experienced pilots as they tell you the real behind the scenes story.

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