Human-Rights Probe Sides with Pilot

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In Bangor, Maine, a Human Rights Commission investigator has determined that a cargo pilot who refused to fly a plane with one inoperative attitude indicator and one suspect AI into night IMC was illegally fired. According to the Bangor Daily News, Aric Merrow was getting ready to fly a route for Air Now (it operates both Caravans and Bandierantes but the Daily News didn’t identify the aircraft type) when he noticed the pilot-side AI didn’t work. Working by flashlight, he and a mechanic tried to switch the right-side AI to the left side but the result didn’t satisfy either of them. Merrow refused the flight and the mechanic later told the human-rights investigator, Barbara Lelli, that he agreed with the decision. "Tonight didn't look like the night to go darting into the clouds with only one attitude indicator ... which you are not sure works or not,” the mechanic is quoted by Lelli’s report as saying, according to the Daily News. However, Merrow’s supervisor claimed the pilot “just wanted the night off” and had other problems.

Company officials told the investigator that Merrow’s performance and attitude had deteriorated in the months prior to his termination. They said he had been caught at work out of uniform, had taxied across a runway without clearance and had refused to help a fellow pilot unload cargo from an airplane. The commission hasn’t ruled on the case yet but Lelli has recommended it side with Merrow.