Southwest Pilot Suspended For Off-Color Words

Southwest has been in the news for good news (lower fares) and then just this morning, not-so-good-news with a problem with one of their pilots.

The popular airline says it has suspended a pilot after he went on an obscenity-laden misogynistic and homophobic rant from the cockpit, CBS 2 of Houston reports.

The March 25 rant was inadvertently broadcast over a Houston air traffic control frequency after the pilot failed to shut off his flight’s communications link with air traffic control, a move that also tied up the frequency for other flights in the area, according to CBS 2.

CBS 2 says the unidentified pilot “could be heard talking to his co-pilot in the cockpit, expressing frustration over the airline hiring so many flight attendants that he found to be unsuitable for dating.”

“A continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes,” the pilot could be heard saying from the cockpit via the Houston Center air traffic control frequency.

“Eleven (expletive) over-the-top (expletive) ass (expletive) homosexuals and a granny,” the pilot continued, all while complaining that there were so few flight attendants that would be up to his standards.

In listening to the audio (bleep-heavy, but still graphic) the pilot seemed to disregard whether any of the potential attendants might be married, reports USA Today.

An air traffic controller tried to interrupt the pilot’s rant several times, though the pilot appeared to be unaware of the attempts.

CBS 2 says the tape become public after “air traffic controllers in Houston first alerted Federal Aviation Administration supervisors on March 25, 2011, around 1:30 p.m. and those supervisors forwarded a tape of the episode to Southwest Airlines to take action against the pilot.”

In some of the additional “color” provided by the pilot, he refers to Houston as “one of the ugliest bases,” consisting of “just a handful of cute chicks.”

After the rant ended, several other pilots on the frequency were quick to say the rant didn’t come from their flight.

Speaking about the incident, the FAA issued a statement to CBS 2 saying “the incident occurred during a phase of flight in which personal conversations are permitted in the cockpit.”

However, the FAA did not appear to be pleased with what had happened.

“Nevertheless, the FAA expects a higher level of professionalism from flight crews, regardless of the circumstances,” the statement concluded.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King responded to CBS 2 in an e-mail, saying it would not provide details of the pilot’s punishment because it considered the incident to be “family matter.”

It would seem that the pilot was just engaging in “guy talk” but, next time the personal conversation gets under way, maybe make sure the microphone is turned off?

I’d rather have a quirky pilot, than an intoxicated one. I suppose we need to look to the bright side.

On a more positive note, Southwest recently started a three day sale to sell one-way flights for as little as $40. The sale goes until Thursday.

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