Union “deeply disappointed” with firing of two First Air pilots
Air Line Pilots Association pledges to investigate incident
The union that represents pilots at First Air called the company’s decision to terminate two flight crew members earlier this week a rushed judgement that the union intends to investigate.
First Air dismissed two pilots who flew a Boeing 737-200 off course last month during a scheduled flight from Rankin Inlet to Iqaluit.
“We are deeply disappointed with the management of First Air and their decision to terminate the flight crew prior to a complete and thorough investigation of the incident,” said an April 11 email from the Air Line Pilots Association.
“This rush to judgement has unfairly called into question the expertise and professionalism of a crew with more than 40 years of combined flight experience.”
About three-quarters of the way into a March 31 flight from Rankin Inlet to Iqaluit, the aircraft lost communication with air traffic control during a communication hand-over from Edmonton to Montreal’s air traffic control centre.
Reports estimated the plane was about 225 nautical miles northwest of Iqaluit when the crew was contacted by a nearby aircraft to warn them that they were off course.
The pilots then re-set their instruments, turned south and landed in Iqaluit without incident.
As part of its investigation into why the plane went off course, First Air said it has reviewed flight data, navigation aids on the aircraft and conducted interviews with the pilots and cabin crew.
The pilots were initially suspended with pay for the duration of the investigation, until the airline learned more.
“During the interviews, we learned the pilots did not follow our standard operating procedures designed to eliminate navigational errors,” First Air said earlier this week.
“As a result, those pilots are no longer employees of First Air.”
First Air did not provide further details explaining what procedures the pilots failed to follow March 31, only saying the airline has now “reinforced the procedures with all crew and dispatch staff.”
The pilots association said it will use whatever resources it has “to investigate this incident and support the crew.”