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What do you do if the operator is breaking the law?


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So I'm sure many of you have been in situations when things don't seem right. The OP in the post about checking the fuel mentioned that some tour company was flying a helicopter with a busted fuel gauge for an extended period of time (I believe over a year).

 

Say you are in that situation: You have 750 hours, just landed a turbine job (or any job for that matter), think everything looks good, and then things start to reveal themselves. In this case the fuel gauge is broken and the owner doesn't want to fix it. Sure, the fuel is a time equation, but you are violating the MEL. As the pilot in command your butt is going to be on the line when the helicopter runs out of fuel unintentionally and have to auto to someones backyard. So its a no win situation since you are either out of a job, or will potentially lose your license/life.

 

So what do you do? You've been out of work for so long and finally landed a turbine job. Do you walk away cold turkey? Is there anything you can do as a whistle blower with the FAA?

 

I certainly feel that if you can blatantly display that the FARs/law is being broken, acting as the pilot in command you need to do something, but what?

 

What about if you are an instructor with 250 hours and your school starts to stretch the rules and you have no other options? Again, it seems any way you look at it, its a lose/lose situation. Either you walk away (no job), report them (no job), or say you aren't flying until its fixed (no job), or just go fly and close your eyes until the nightmare is over.

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You can always find another job. You can always find another school. It's rather difficult to come back from the dead, and once the FAA initiates certificate enforcement action against you, consider

Funny enough, during my initial training and attendance to a “professional pilot development” class, that’s exactly what the instructor suggested. Specifically, he said, read everything you can on thi

"Those satisfied with their own mediocrity will never have the capacity for greatness." - Me

A turbine job at 750,...good one! Maybe at 1750? Try R44 tour pilot or CFI!

 

Anyway, as a low timer who is easily replaced at the drop of a hat, and considering you may never find another job after losing this one because you turned in your boss (who was knowingly violating the regs, and insisting that you do too) I'd say, stick it out until you can find another job, then get the hell out!

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You can always find another job. You can always find another school. It's rather difficult to come back from the dead, and once the FAA initiates certificate enforcement action against you, consider your career damaged for the long run.

 

It's your pilot certificate, not your employers. It's your life, too.

 

That said, ask yourself who is paying your salary: the FAA, or your employer?

 

Fuel gauges should work. Legally, they're required to read empty when out of useable fuel.

 

Particularly in light aircraft, fuel gauges that are less than reliable are very common.

 

How much fuel have you got? Did you start with a known quantity, and do you know your fuel consumption rate, and do you have a watch? What are you going to do if your fuel indications fail during the flight? What are you going to do if they indicate incorrectly?

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"Perfect is the enemy of good"

Sometimes there are no good answers, only chances to minimize damage and/ or increase the chance of survival. It's hard, but you gotta do it. Ditching with power, for instance, is better than flying it until the power fails while trying to reach a "good landing" site.

Take it up the chain of supervision, tactfully explaining the risk that is being assumed. It is considerable hazard to all involved, operator, insurance company, and PIC- you. It's more than being able to time the flight and fuel, never having a fuel exhaustion issue, or an accident: One passenger with a question voiced to the wrong ears will put you under the bus, period.

If that's not sufficient resolution, you're about to lose the job: Report the issue; or wait for the FAA's official attention, which will include you as PIC; or move on before the stuff hits the fan.

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Welcome to commercial aviation, boys! Think stuff like this doesn't go on? Heh. Still want in, Mr. "I'll never fly an unairworthy aircraft?"

 

Oh, and I know a guy with less than 750 hours TT who's flying a 206 right now. It happens.

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Welcome to commercial aviation, boys! Think stuff like this doesn't go on? Heh. Still want in, Mr. "I'll never fly an unairworthy aircraft?"

Yep. Easy to say in theory that you would stand your ground until you are up to your eyeballs in debt and been without a job because your flight school didn't give you a CFI position and you finally get your break.

 

At the end of the day it takes some knowledge about how things work.

Fly with delaminating blades ? NO.

Fly with inop fuel gauge ? Most likely yes.

Key is knowing what is going to kill you because of a mechanical failure and what is going to kill you because of pilot error.

 

 

Oh, and I know a guy with less than 750 hours TT who's flying a 206 right now. It happens.

 

Yep, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy either ;)

Edited by Rogue
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Rogue:

 

Yep, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy either ;)

 

He is an oustanding individual and an outstanding pilot and I'm very proud of him :)

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Oh, and I know a guy with less than 750 hours TT who's flying a 206 right now. It happens.

 

 

I know a guy who got a job in a 500E with about 450hrs TT :D

 

Well I knew a guy with 4000hrs who was still stck in pistons, and another at 2000hrs before he finally found a turbine job!

 

...so there! :lol:

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These kind of scenarios are always good fun, eh? But in reality, there are a few steps in between "do nothing and fly" and "report him to the feds".

 

How about you talk to the person responsible for the maintenance at that organisation first? Or maybe stand up straight, and be a bit more convincing when talking to the boss...

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Before going to the feds, at least make sure the right people know about it. In some cases its one mech that thinks its "ok" to break the rules, and If you tell the DOM hes likely to fix it and maybe fix the mech as well. Sometimes the problem is the DOM and it needs to go the boss. If the problem is the boss it needs to go to the feds.

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The insinuation of the OP is that a flying job is your one and only alternative. At some point in the wise aviator's career he/she will realize there should always at a minimum be a plan B. The wiser the aviator, the more fallback positions they will construct.

What are you going to do if you don't pass your next physical ?

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It's a lose-lose situation. I've been there. I worked for a small school in the Northeast for about a month after moving there with only 300 hours. It didn't take long for me to realize that the maintenance was below par. It took another short while for me to figure out that the maintenance record keeping was fraudulent and downright criminal.

 

I really wanted to report this guy to the Feds, but after having a few quiet conversations with the other instructors there, it became obvious that the odds of proper justice being done in this situation were long at best, due to the owners local relationships. So, with great damage being done to my career before it even started, I was going to get no result worth speaking of. What was the point? I left the job, became unemployed for another year or so before working for a great school called Nassau Helicopters. Over the following year, I got my hours up enough to get the coveted first turbine job, and I've moved on further from that to a job I feel I could do for a very long time now.

 

As I was leaving, I did warn all my students, and friends about what was going on there. Not one of them, that I can remember, decided not to fly there. That's how desperate people are at the start of their careers in this business; they'll risk their own lives just to get that "1000 hours".

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So I'm sure many of you have been in situations when things don't seem right. The OP in the post about checking the fuel mentioned that some tour company was flying a helicopter with a busted fuel gauge for an extended period of time (I believe over a year).

 

Say you are in that situation: You have 750 hours, just landed a turbine job (or any job for that matter), think everything looks good, and then things start to reveal themselves. In this case the fuel gauge is broken and the owner doesn't want to fix it. Sure, the fuel is a time equation, but you are violating the MEL. As the pilot in command your butt is going to be on the line when the helicopter runs out of fuel unintentionally and have to auto to someones backyard. So its a no win situation since you are either out of a job, or will potentially lose your license/life.

 

So what do you do? You've been out of work for so long and finally landed a turbine job. Do you walk away cold turkey? Is there anything you can do as a whistle blower with the FAA?

 

I certainly feel that if you can blatantly display that the FARs/law is being broken, acting as the pilot in command you need to do something, but what?

 

What about if you are an instructor with 250 hours and your school starts to stretch the rules and you have no other options? Again, it seems any way you look at it, its a lose/lose situation. Either you walk away (no job), report them (no job), or say you aren't flying until its fixed (no job), or just go fly and close your eyes until the nightmare is over

 

 

Here is my two cents. It might not mean all that much, but here it is! If the operator is willing to cut THOSE kind of corners, how could you even consider staying? Lots of details left out of the scenario so this is a general response. Forget about you for a minute and think of the unmitigated risks that you are imposing on your passengers without their consent or knowledge. Sacred Trust.

 

Your certificate and your integrity should demand that you immediately cease operation and address the issue. As the PIC, you can ground the aircraft. Yes! You can! If it means you leave the job because the operator refuses to remedy the situation, then so be it. You were looking for a job when you found that one. There is NO SUCH thing as "no other options". Just like that "dream job" will always come open again. If you go fly and "close your eyes", you should not be a pilot and deserve to lose your certificate. (Yikes... harsh.... but true!)

 

I would EXPECT that out of anyone I hire, and in fact, give them a scenario in interviews to test them on it. Its a pretty cut and dry issue in my eyes, and I want a guy with a PIC attitude who knows when to stand up and say no.

 

Again, just my two cents :)

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I said no to a job offer once, not because the operator was breaking any regs, but because the job just seemed a bit too dangerous for me. That was about three years ago, and I'm beggining to think that opportunity only knocks once!

 

So, if you're a low timer and you have a job, don't leave it until you have another one, no matter how much it sucks! Idealism and reality don't always mix.

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I said no to a job offer once, not because the operator was breaking any regs, but because the job just seemed a bit too dangerous for me. That was about three years ago, and I'm beggining to think that opportunity only knocks once!

 

So, if you're a low timer and you have a job, don't leave it until you have another one, no matter how much it sucks! Idealism and reality don't always mix.

 

A job that sucks is in no way comparable to anything safety related, or in the case we were discussing both safety and legality. If you don't have the ideals, your reality is in jeopardy. Opportunity presents itself ALL the time. I will agree that you don't leave a job to get a job, but we aren't discussing a situation in which the pilot just doesn't like what he is doing.

 

I hire a lot of pilots. I want pilots with PIC backbone who wont compromise on these types of issues. I hope everyone reading who is just getting started or is low time will take that to heart and make it a part of their core values. Integrity is important.

 

Sorry, I added more cents, I started with two.... Fly Safe!

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A job that sucks is in no way comparable to anything safety related, or in the case we were discussing both safety and legality. If you don't have the ideals, your reality is in jeopardy. Opportunity presents itself ALL the time. I will agree that you don't leave a job to get a job, but we aren't discussing a situation in which the pilot just doesn't like what he is doing.

 

I hire a lot of pilots. I want pilots with PIC backbone who wont compromise on these types of issues. I hope everyone reading who is just getting started or is low time will take that to heart and make it a part of their core values. Integrity is important.

 

Sorry, I added more cents, I started with two.... Fly Safe!

 

I wasn't comparing a sucky job to one that is illegal. I was just pointing out how difficult it is for low timers to find work, which is why many pilots would stick it out, just as we learned in the thread about flying over gross weight!

 

Its not about having a backbone! Its about not wanting to face another year, or worse, as an unemployed low timer!

 

Just curious, do you have the backbone to call the police when you see someone driving while using their cell phone, or speeding, or not wearing their seat belt, or doesn't have their headlights on in the rain? All of which are unsafe practices!

 

By the way, you don't have to appologize for posting more than once!

Edited by eagle5
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It really scares me that so many pilots will take a position of flying over MGW, or with a bad mag, or an un-airworthy aircraft and somehow justify their position and attitude.

 

It also surprises me that they will openly post in on an internet forum for employers to read.

 

Employers want to hire pilots that will protect their aircraft, passengers and Protect the Sacred Trust.

 

Employers want professionals with integrity.

 

At Heli Success last year, one HR person had a bullet point of "Integrity means doing the right thing when no one is looking". I added that "Professionalism is doing the right thing when you do not want to".

 

If you ever wish to work in the industry for major employers, be careful what you post here that does not adhere to Integrity and Professionalism. Do you really have to ask what to do?

 

When used as a reference for pilots and asked by the future employer about them, my best recommendation is that "I would let them fly my family everyday".

 

Mark, is this pilot pool that you get to choose from scary or what?

 

Mike

Edited by Mikemv
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