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Old 04-01-2011, 09:53 AM   #1  
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Joined APC: Feb 2008
Position: Boeing's Plastic Jet Button Pusher - 787
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Default UAL Capt in DEN (December-2010)

Has anything come of this??

Very much surprised that this was not brought to the 'front-burner' earlier/or not at all. After reading other emails/accounts that substantiated this incident, seems as if all ALPA Pilot's need to be aware/support this Captain.

Appears to be just another example of how 'diminished' Captain's Authority has become.

Captain **** **** was the Captain on United Airlines Flight 744 on December 2*, 2010 from Denver to Boston departing from Gate B-37. After assisting Maintenance with a reverser problem which had delayed the flight, Customer Service began boarding the aircraft when the go ahead was given by Zone Control around 8:30 am.

At the last minute, a Jet Blue pilot entered the cockpit and requested to ride the cockpit jumpseat to Boston since the flight was planned to be full. After checking his credentials, and after introductions were made, the pilot requested to stow his bags in the cockpit, to which Captain **** agreed since there was plenty of room. The jumpseater further stated that the CSR working the flight had taken his roller board away from him and was going to gate check it.

Captain **** exited the cockpit onto the jetway and saw the pilot’s bag next to the jetway door. He told the CSR, a Mr. Douglas ******, fn ######, that it was ok for the pilot to stow his bag in the cockpit. Mr. ****** rudely responded that the bag was going to be gate checked and would not be allowed on the aircraft. As the working Captain of the flight, Captain **** felt it was well within his authority over OMC issues to allow the bag in the cockpit. In order to accommodate the jumpseater who was commuting to work, he told the CSR that he was taking the bag onboard.

At that time, the CSR opened the jetway door, grabbed the bag, and threw it out onto the slide to the bottom of the jetway stairs. As he did that, Captain **** attempted to go out onto the jetway stairs, but the CSR abruptly closed the door, and used his body to bump the Captain back onto the jetway. The Captain was astonished by the CSR’s highly antagonistic actions.

The Captain asked him if the CSR was going to prevent him from accessing the ramp, to which the CSR replied that was his intention. The Captain pointed out that he was a badged employee and the CSR had no right to deny him access to the ramp. He replied that he was not going to allow the Captain onto the ramp. The Captain then attempted to go around him, when he forcibly tried to stop the Captain’s progress again making physical contact. The Captain continued to move to gain access through the door. When it became apparent that the Captain was going to gain access, Mr. ****** abruptly stopped pushing, flopped back and stated, “That’s assault.” No one else was present on the jetway during this encounter.

The Captain went out the jetway door and down the stairs, retrieved the pilot’s bag, and brought it back up to the top of the jetway stairs. Having forgotten the door access code, he was standing at the top of the stairs outside the jetway door calling the Company Crew telephone number in order to retrieve the code from an automated system. As he was in this process, the CSR opened the jetway door, grabbed the pilot’s bag and again threw it down the jetway slide.

The bag was again retrieved, and the Denver Domicile Flight Operations Representative was called in order to get a Flight Manager for assistance. The jetway door again opened, this time by a CSR supervisor, and the Captain regained access to the jetway.

The Captain’s access to the aircraft was now blocked by two CSR supervisors. So, as he stood there with the bag, he called the Flight Operations Duty Manager, and spoke with Scott Miller. He explained the situation, and asked him to check on the actual verbiage in the Flight Operations Manual, in order to verify where the bag was allowed to be stowed. Scott verified that it could be stowed in the primary or secondary crew stowage areas, the primary area being in the cockpit.

About this time, DEN 767 F/O William Fox, the Flight Operations Representative, came down the jetway, and the Captain briefly explained what has happening. .

On the jetway now, there were about three CSR supervisors, the CSR, and four Denver Airport police officers. The Captain was surprised when the police arrived, and he became concerned about the escalating situation. He made the statement that he was exercising his Captain’s Authority to board the bag in the cockpit. One police officer came forward, stating that “you have no authority, I am the authority, and your authority is only in effect on the airplane, and then you can be Captain or Admiral or whatever you want.”

The Captain also called ALPA representatives who in turn called the NER ACP Captain James Simons in order to get some Flight Operations assistance, but without any success. The Captain was trying to use his resources in the Flight Operations chain of command, but the situation was spiraling out of control. No one from United management seemed to be taking control of matters. A police officer asserted that the Captain was causing an inconvenience for a lot of passengers and that he should just get on the airplane. The implication was very clear, “Fly or be arrested!”

This whole situation, the obvious disregard for the Captain’s authority for the conduct of this flight, the physical intimidation and lying by the CSR, and the added intimidation by the police officers, and the lack of any meaningful support from company management put him in a very difficult situation. He was faced with assuming the responsibility for the safe conduct of the flight and safety of an aircraft with 148 passengers and 5 crew aboard into a snow storm where the forecast visibility was 1 mile and decreasing with a resultant lowering ceiling; or removing himself from the flight due to the continuing stress and mental distraction that he was enduring from the intimidation and interference while attempting to perform his duties in a responsible and diligent manner. The Captain was no longer focused on the jumpseater’s bag, but rather the safety of the flight.

The Captain then made a statement questioning his fitness to fly, and that maybe he should conscientiously remove himself from the flight which he subsequently did. After gathering his gear from the cockpit, he was then placed under arrest for assault and disturbance by the Denver Airport Police, handcuffed, transported to first a holding cell at the airport, and then downtown for processing and booking. Up until the point of his self-removal from the flight, he had the option of boarding the aircraft as pilot in command and departing.

Except for Captain McCaskey’s assistance in getting from the Denver jail back to DIA, support from United Airlines in this matter has been notably absent. Moreover, he is personally liable for any and all legal fees and other expenses resulting from this incident, even though he was in the pursuit of his duties, and his final decision to remove himself from the flight was made with the overriding interests of flight safety in mind at the expense of his own well-being. Amazingly, the Company has chosen to ignore his self-sacrifice and to instead issue a disciplinary letter of charge for unprofessional behavior. The Captain is currently awaiting the Company’s decision after his hearing at IADFO.

The Company's behavior in this matter is unfathomable when viewed solely in the context of safe airline operations. But when you factor in their campaign against the stature and importance of the airline pilot profession their actions become understandable. Lastly, the fact that Captain **** is an active ALPA volunteer, currently serving on the MEC Grievance Committee, makes very clear the motivation behind the Company's actions.
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