Fired Pilot's Boss In Cockpit During Fly-By

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As we reported last week, Ian Wilkinson, a senior Cathay Pacific captain, was fired three weeks after he did a high-speed, low-level pass over a Seattle-area airport in a new Boeing 777 he was delivering from the factory. It wasn’t the stunt that got him fired, it was the fact that he didn’t have permission to perform the fly-by, something the airline occasionally allows for airshows. But a story in Sunday’s Asian World News, reprinted by The Earth Times, raises the question of just how much authority Wilkinson needed, since the chairman of the airline, Christopher Pratt, was in a cockpit jumpseat for the whole performance. The airline confirmed that fact but said Pratt, who runs one of the biggest airlines in Asia, couldn’t be expected to know that the stunt wasn’t “authorized,” "The chairman is not an aviator and he was fully aware that the captain was in full command of the flight," an unidentified spokeswoman said. "There was no request or suggestion from anyone in Cathay Pacific for the fly-by to take place. The decision was entirely that of the captain in command." The spokeswoman also denied that Wilkinson’s firing had more to do with the publicity surrounding the stunt, which was featured on YouTube, than company protocol. “The YouTube video only confirmed what was already becoming known. The internal investigation was well underway prior to the video appearing online,” she claimed. However, an unidentified source reportedly told a German magazine that it was felt the incident “makes our airline look like a bunch of cowboys.” Wilkinson was paid three months’ severance and keeps his company pension. He has not been available for comment. His maid reportedly told the newspaper he’s on holiday in Thailand.