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Sun, Apr 17, 2022

APA Sues American Airlines

Lawsuit Filed Over "Volunteer" Program for Unpaid Sim Training Sessions

The Allied Pilots Association has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines over a program the company hoped would augment simulator staff with unpaid pilots using their time off. 

Their issue lies with a new company effort to forgo the need for a second check airman in the simulator for cases of absence or illness, through the use of unpaid volunteer "seat fillers". For simulator training, a missing student would, in regular times, be replaced by another paid check airman, where they could take the place of the missing student for the duration of the other pilot's evaluation. Now, in an effort to push as many capable airmen to the flight line as they can, the airline has resorted to soliciting other pilots to fill in - unpaid - during critical training stages under unknown terms and conditions.

The APA is understandably incensed, especially when so much of the damage is, they say, self-inflicted.

“Having failed to plan properly for the recovery in air travel demand, American Airlines management now finds itself having to deal with the consequences of being the only major airline to have furloughed pilots during the pandemic and its decision to forgo training opportunities at that time,” said APA head, Eric Ferguson. “Management continues to fall behind and is scrambling to increase the volume of the pilot training funnel. Consequently, they are now soliciting all pilots to volunteer to replace our specially trained Check Airmen as “seat fillers” during a critical training evaluation stage under terms and conditions that remain largely unknown to APA."

“This unilateral action by American Airlines management degrades the training experience and risks long-term damage to the airline’s safety culture,” Ferguson said. “Management was clearly ill-prepared for the rebound in airline traffic and has been selling tickets for flights the airline may be unable to operate due to a shortage of properly qualified pilots, despite management’s recent assurances to the contrary."

“If the airline’s training resources weren’t under severe duress, management wouldn’t have taken this unilateral, reckless, and unlawful action to fill these simulator sessions in a manner that is not contemplated by our collective bargaining agreement.”

Ferguson maintains that the lawsuit is not something the pilots want to resort to, but faced with a company who seems at best ambivalent to their concerns, they have no other choice. He points out that many provisions of the current contract, which was completed in 2015, have yet to be implemented. 

“Management hasn’t delivered what we have been long owed, while taking by force what they haven’t negotiated or paid for,” he said. “For the long-term success of our airline, APA cannot tolerate this sudden and shocking degradation in our relationship with management, and regrets that we must resort to the federal courts to seek a remedy.”

FMI: www.alliedpilots.org

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