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Pilot Who Reported Safety Concerns Ordered Reinstated

A pilot working for Ameriflight PR Incorporated repeatedly raised concerns about the way fuel calculations were made for planes flown out of the airline's Puerto Rico base. Fearing a potential plane crash, he took further steps including refusing to pilot a flight, emailing management and fellow pilots, and finally raising the issue with the Federal Aviation Administration. According to an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the pilot's termination from the company was in retaliation for those activities.

According to the OSHA investigation, the pilot's efforts to alert the FAA and others of his safety concerns were protected under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century. Specifically, the pilot was protected under the whistle-blower provisions of that act. The airline has been ordered to reinstate the pilot, pay him compensatory damages, and clear his employment record of all references to his protected actions.

Pilots and other employees should be free to report safety violations. Whistle-blower laws remove the threat of retaliation by employers and allow airline employees. According to an OSHA Regional Administrator, airlines "must understand that penalizing employees who raise safety concerns with their supervisors or regulator is unacceptable."

Source: Business Insurance, "OSHA orders Ameriflight to reinstate, compensate whistle-blower pilot," by Judy Greenwald, 19 July 2012

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