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AAL Dispatcher Suing AAL over Flt 63

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Dad is my favorite title
Nov 30, 2001
Airline Dispatcher Files FAA Complaint


By JONATHAN D. SALANT / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The American Airlines dispatcher who handled the flight carrying alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid has filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration.

In the 12-page complaint, dispatcher Julie Robichaux said American Airlines interfered with her job and punished her for telling flight crews of possible security problems.

American Airlines spokesman Steve Tankel denied the allegations.

The complaint comes at a time when American and some of its
employees have clashed over security, safety and personnel issues. The airline, which had two of hijacked planes on Sept. 11, is negotiating a new contract with its pilots' union.

Robichaux was on duty Dec. 22 when the captain of Flight 63 told her about Reid. She said the captain reported Reid had been subdued but it was unsafe to complete the flight to Miami. She said they decided that the plane should land in Boston.

Dispatchers track flights for the airlines and are in frequent
contract with the flight crews, telling them about potential weather problems, safety issues and other information.

After learning of the shoe-bomb incident, Robichaux said she asked for help to track her other flights, but no one was available due to layoffs. Tankel said there were enough dispatchers on duty at the time.

She said the manager of the operations center contacted the captain and told him to land at an airport in Canada. She said the captain told the manager that he would land in Boston.

Tankel said Robichaux misunderstood the conversation and the
supervisor was only talking about a possible Canadian landing.

In May, she said she told flight crews about two security incidents
involving American flights to Zurich. On a flight out of Dallas, six
passengers traveling on Indian passports allegedly were
synchronizing watches. On a flight out of New York, a Pakistani
passenger refused to shut off his computer when the plane was about to take off. He was removed from the flight.

She said her supervisor called her to a meeting that required a
union representative to attend, told her actions were inappropriate, and was threatened with a letter that could be the first step in a process that could lead to her losing her job.

Tankel said dispatchers are not supposed to handle security.

"As far as security is concerned, it had been our policy for some
time that security issues and events are managed through the center manager," Tankel said. "The dispatcher maintains contact with the captain so the dispatcher can rely information to the captain and crew and get information from the captain and the crew."

Last week, the union released a videotape of interviews with pilots and flight crews aboard the Paris-to-Miami flight that carried Reid. The union charged American with failing to provide adequate training for dealing with such emergencies.

As a dispatcher, I find the fact that she couldnt get assistance to work her other flights reprehensible. Imagine if you will you're UAL Captain Al Haynes (a true hero if I ever saw one) and your number 2 turbine disk just shredded out, and you call up dispatch and tell them your situation, and the dispatcher tells you to wait in line, I have another problem I'm already dealing with, plus my other flights because I cant find any help because management has its head locked and cocked.

Yeah, I thought so too.

I also dont like the statement that dispatchers arent supposed to work security. Well, correct me if I am wrong, but arent the captain and dispatcher supposed to jointly share the responsibility for operational control for a domestic and flag flight??? No where did I read in 121 that that responsibility is usurped by the center manager (or duty manager, system ops manager, lead coordinator, etc) when it's convenient.

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