Six First Flying pilots resign, sue company over safety
Six pilots of Osaka-based First Flying Co., Ltd. have reportedly resigned and filed a lawsuit against their former employer after an accident last August at Aguni Island airport, in which the company’s DHC6 aircraft overran the runway during landing. Eleven people onboard were injured in the accident.
The pilots are suing the company claiming the security procedures at the company were at fault. The lawsuit could be an influential factor in the decision to restore Naha – Aguni flights that have been suspended since the accident. It would also have an impact on the pending Ishigaki – Tarama flights.
Reportedly, First Flying was planning to conduct extra flight training with DHC6 aircraft after the accident occurred. However, an investigation revealed that DHC6 had been involved in similar accidents in other countries, and some of the pilots claimed that the company should have investigated the cause before resuming the flights with DHC6.
First Flying authorized three of the pilots to transfer to fly other aircraft, but all of them resigned in February. Another two pilots resigned in March, and the sixth at the end of this month.
Junichi Kida, a director at First Flying, said that the company had to order pilots to transfer because of decreased sales and profits after the accident caused them to have an excess of pilots, but he denied that the company downgraded safety. He stressed that the company has struggled to restore the flights.
As there is no prospect of First Flying resuming Naha-Aguni flights, Fumihiro Isa, the village vice-head of Aguni, said Tuesday that the lawsuit was an unexpected surprise that he needs to discuss with the government.