OSHA decision in face of FAA determination creates Conundrum

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ARTICLE: OSHA orders back pay for pilot fired after emergency landing.

Redundant regulations are a problem – the regulated needs to figure out which set of rules are applicable and/or preeminent. OSHA has gained the authority to oversee the airplane working environment with a pile of rule books because the FAA gave up its preemptive powers. The FAA still retains its operational safety authority.

Where can both regulators regulate and where does only one authority have exclusive jurisdiction are open, befuddling questions.

The issue has been joined in the OSHA case between carrier, Metropolitan Aviation LLC , and its pilot, Martin Campanella. The report is filled with significant ancillary allegations involving whether the company did or did not order the pilot to fly the aircraft to the maintenance base; whether the pilot had a record of problems before this incident; etc.

What the author did in the linked article is to bury the most salient fact deeply into the text – that the FAA found that there were no safety violations. If the pilot says that the reason for his termination was his refusal to fly an unsafe aircraft, then the FAA’s determination that there were no safety violations should be determinative.

The agency with statutory competence as to aviation safety found that there were no violations. OSHA seems to have disregarded that expert judgment and found that the pilot’s termination for refusal to fly what he believed was an unsafe aircraft was unjustified.

What a mess! The above picture shows the quandary of every airline manager – what rules prevail: OSHA’s or FAA’s?

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