period, he must, under the contract, be terminated.
Plaintiff was selected from approximately 200 applicants and received the same basic training as other newly hired pilots receive at Sis-Q. He was sent to a ground school for the F-27,
and, as part of that ground school training, received flight simulator
instruction in an F-27 simulator located at Allegheny Airlines in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff received three training sessions in the simulator. He then volunteered for an FAA check ride, which was administrated by an FAA inspector who graded his ability to perform certain routine and emergency procedures in the simulator.
Plaintiff failed this check ride. The FAA inspector rated plaintiff deficient in several categories. First, he was unable to perform a simple "Preflight Inspection", despite the fact that a checklist is provided for this procedure. The purpose of the Preflight Inspection is to enable a pilot to determine whether the aircraft is safe to fly. Second, plaintiff was rated unsatisfactory in the category of "Other Instrument Approaches", which tests his ability to make a variety of instrument approaches, many of which are commonly utilized in the airline industry. Third, plaintiff was graded unsatisfactory in the "Steep Turns" category. Fourth, plaintiff was graded unsatisfactory in "Area Departure and Arrival", in part because he failed to lower the landing gear while landing. Credible testimony described this particular shortcoming as a "fatal" error.
Other categories in which plaintiff was rated unsatisfactory include, "Approaches to Stalls,"
"Normal and Abnormal Procedures,"
and "Emergency Procedures." During the "Emergency Procedures" portion of the check ride, plaintiff was tested on emergency landing procedures, no flap approach procedures, and getting the landing gear and flaps extended in emergency situations. Finally, plaintiff received an unsatisfactory score in the check ride category entitled "Judgment". According to credible testimony, "Judgment" is the ability of the individual to make the proper decisions at the proper time for the safety of passengers, crew and aircraft.
Plaintiff's simulator instructor at Allegheny, Captain Frank Burns, testified persuasively that plaintiff was a "below average" student, specifically, in the bottom 25% Of all the students he had ever taught. Captain Burns was also present at plaintiff's FAA check ride and testified that plaintiff did "very poorly."
After his difficulties in the simulator, plaintiff returned to California for in-flight training, where he again experienced problems and was unable to perform satisfactorily. He was given additional training more than the average Sis-Q pilot in the hope that his progress would improve. It did not. Due to the forty-day time limit on pilot certification contained in Sis-Q's contract, plaintiff was scheduled for a certification ride in the F-27 with an FAA inspector. Plaintiff failed this in-flight check ride and was not certified by the FAA. Plaintiff was then terminated by Sis-Q due to his inability to receive FAA certification.
Shortly after his termination with Sis-Q, plaintiff was hired by Trans International Airlines ("TIA"), a supplemental charter, passenger, and air freight carrier, based in Oakland, California. Plaintiff was hired by TIA as a Co-pilot in a L-382 or C-130 aircraft.
After ground training, he was evaluated in a basic instrument procedures trainer, which, unlike a simulator which contains both flight instruments and other aircraft systems, is designed only to train and test basic instrument procedures. Despite the fact that the average TIA trainee receives only one chance to perform satisfactorily on the basic instrument evaluation ride, plaintiff was given three evaluation rides. His overall performance for each ride was unsatisfactory. Captain Tichacek, who personally observed and evaluated plaintiff's final ride, explained that plaintiff's performance was unsatisfactory overall for two principal reasons: first, plaintiff was very weak in basic instrument procedures; and, second, plaintiff did not exhibit good judgment.
The Court is cognizant of the fact that plaintiff's capabilities as a pilot were evaluated in terms of his ability to fly the F-27 and L-382 aircraft, neither of which is included in American's fleet. Nevertheless, the various categories of tests administered to plaintiff evaluate basic abilities which are required to fly any aircraft. Test categories such as "Preflight Inspection," "Area Departure and Arrival," "basic instrument procedures" and "Judgment" would seem to evaluate core capabilities of a pilot, regardless of the aircraft on which he is tested. Plaintiff's inability to perform even the most basic procedures, and his exhibition of poor judgment raise grave doubts as to whether he would have been hired by American if his application had progressed beyond the first stage of the selection process. His performance on these tests alone justify the conclusion that plaintiff would not have been hired by American absent any age discrimination.
Moreover, as evidence presented at trial indicates, plaintiff's lack of judgment is not something that has been observed only on isolated occasions, but rather, has been noted throughout plaintiff's entire career. An examination of plaintiff's Coast Guard record illustrates several examples of his lack of good judgment. In a Report on Fitness of the Officer ("RFO") covering the period from July 12, 1969, to January 31, 1970, his commanding officer observed that "his constant efforts to be original require monitoring by seniors". See, Defendant's Exhibit 35. The RFO covering the period from January 10, 1969, to July 11, 1969, noted that "his approach to assignments and problems is frequently unorthodox, with varying results." Id. The RFO covering the months between July 23, 1968, and January 9, 1969, described him as "a rather intense person, (who) has a tendency at time(s) to make quick decisions not always based on a thorough review of the facts." Id. The RFO for the period from February 1, 1968, to July 2, 1968, made the following observations:
His enthusiasm to attain certain goals has occasionally dulled his good judgment and he has followed unorthodox or non-standard procedures "to get the job done". When assigned duties for which he has personal enthusiasm, he completes same with perfunctory effort. . . . (H)is abuse of standard flight procedures in the HH-52A and inadequate performance as the president of a board of investigation caused me serious concern and several counseling sessions were conducted approximately two months ago.