Air Canada and Porn in the Cockpit

Air Canada has “once again” had to remind their pesky pilots that inappropriate material on the flight deck is in contravention of company policy and local discrimination laws.

In documents obtained from Air Canada by CBCnews , they have learned that the airline has had complaints of offensive material in the cockpit dating back to at least 2010. The news article that has captured the hearts of the Internet relates to an incident from 2013 – over 12 months ago. Mainstream media has taken ownership of the insignificant news giving undue and unprecedented credit to the billion-dollar-a-year State-owned television network.

Flight Operations Bulletin to Air Canada Crew

The fact this incident saturated travel news last week illustrates a ridiculous standard imposed upon the aviation industry. A stupidly crazy standard not because Flight condones any kind of pornography used to intimidate another person, but rather because people (most notably, the CBC) felt the need to report it. Despite the widespread managerial incompetence that plagues the aviation industry and a callous disregard many airlines have for their workforce, safety, scheduling, passenger management, fatigue, and training, the CBC thought that it had uncovered a scoop because some idiot left a few pornographic business cards on the flight deck. Amazing.

Regardless of how this might read, we’re not belittling the nature of sexual harassment; we’re just amazed that such a minor occurrence has made global headlines. Perhaps the CBC should have turned the cameras back on themselves and addressed the numerous reports of ongoing inappropriate behaviour, sexual misconduct and harassment in their own capital offices.

Would Air Canada have addressed this problem if Transport Canada had not observed the offensive material on the flight deck? Was there a systemic issue only acted upon only because the regulator was aware of it? Have your say below.

Pornography is offensive to many people – not just females – and depending upon the nature of the material it can easily violate the sterile nature of the flight deck (although this isn’t the point we’re trying to make). Pornography can be subjectively viewed as sexual harassment, and depending on the nature of the material, or if the images are left on the flight deck so specific people might find them (female or otherwise), it can simply be seen as targeted harassment or, broadly speaking, objectively offensive. One is a crime, the other an error of judgement. Think of the difference between intentionally farting in a crowded elevator for a gastro inspired giggle or admirably saving your blamp for open air (funnily enough, the subject of another article).

Email sent from Air Canada's Peter Fitzpatrick to CBC's Marnie Luke

The timeline of incidents at Air Canada is a little fuzzy. At least one female pilot started to find offensive images “glued”, tucked away or hidden in various parts of the flight deck dating back six years. The last correspondence Air Canada management had with its staff is over 13 months ago, and Air Canada have told CBC that it is still dealing with ongoing labour arbitration relating to that specific issue (read: the offended girl is suing the airline).

Embraer Pilots are Special...

It us understood that the problem is contained to the Embraer fleet on flights between Las Vegas and Canada, with the porn limited to the business cards of local prostitutes. Those in the industry saw “Embraer fleet” and immediately understood the juvenile nature of the problem: Embraer pilots are… special. Those that have visited Vegas also understand that one can’t wander the streets without an introduction to the local flesh trade or a pocket full or girly business cards – despite objections. Flight time between Vegas and, say Montreal, is around 5 and a half hours. It wouldn’t be unwise to suggest hypoxic-induced fatigue with an airline-food induced dizziness impaired the pilots ability to make sound decisions. In other words, they were bored. That’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason nonetheless.

It’s unknown if the material was used to deliberately harass another pilot.

It’s not uncommon for flight attendants to bring a few girly-type booby-style magazines to the flight deck once they’ve cleaned the aircraft between turnarounds (passengers will often leave magazines in seat pockets). Of course, they’re disposed of before another crew takes control of the aircraft on the chance they might see it as offensive (and yes, of course we read them for the articles). To suggest reading material never finds its way into a cockpit is an absurd proposition propagated to the clueless media clowns that think any news coming from anything that can fly is newsworthy. Those of you that are concerned about reading material on the flight deck need to take a deep breath. What the media would have you believe about aviation safety and what is actually true are two entirely different things.

Download the Air Canada Sexual Harassment Policy here.

If American TV has taught us anything, it’s that their northern neighbours are somewhat prudish and, for want of a better word, backwards. Do Canadians actually see this story as news? Are they so starved of local violence, global awareness, political ineptitude and backward social behaviour that an incident involving a few girly business cards pinned up in an airliner cockpit – likely perpetrated by a single individual – actually qualifies as a heavily publicised news feature? For all those media outlets that gave this incident airplay (including us, I suppose), shame on you.

Video: CBC News Feature.

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Again, we don’t condone any intimidating behaviour – sexual or otherwise. Rather, it’s the reporting of this and other incidents that leaves us concerned about how the public is misled relating to any aviation related event. Even worse is when the ignorance of mass media and the boneheads who choose to believe what they write slowly amass to a point where their influence actually counts.

Our opinion isn’t influenced by the fact that at least a few of the guys at Flight work for an airline that has a half-naked lady painted on the side of their aircraft.

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