Civilian Pilots Sue For Hazard Pay

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Flying supplies to U.S. diplomats in Baghdad and Kabul's war zones, Vision Airlines collected $21 million in federally subsidized hazard pay for pilots and a class action suit now claims it's money the pilots never saw. According to the suit, federal hazard pay was standardized at $2,500 for every arrival and departure at airports in Baghdad and Kabul, or $5,000 per round trip. Specific to operations at Baghdad International, the flight crew was required to follow special procedures that included "blackout procedures which require all exterior an interior aircraft lighting (except for cockpit instruments) to be turned off." Aircraft arriving and departing the airport were required "to fly in a spiral directly above the airport in order to stay within the areas most heavily fortified by the United States military." The suit states that the "high degree of skill and judgment" did not necessarily prevent attack, noting the DHL Airbus that made a miraculous landing without hydraulics after being struck by a missile. (AVweb's video coverage is here.) It alleges that beginning in August of 2005, the airline stopped paying the money to flight crew making the trips, and according to one pilot quoted by CourtHouseNews.com, the airline also began firing personnel who were aware of or had received hazard pay.

The suit alleges that "despite its legal and moral obligations, Vision chose to keep this money for itself," and "retained that hazard pay for its own benefit." Hazard pay is required to be paid by the government to contractors, which the contractor must then pass down to its employees "without taking a cut of those funds," according to the suit.

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