Vortex Air, whose pilot overshot landing while asleep, accused of underpaying staff
The Vortex plane was flying from Devonport to King Island, but overshot its landing. (Instagram: Vortex Air)
The airline employing a pilot who fell asleep at the controls last month is being accused of underpaying its staff.
- The pilot’s union said there were allegations Vortex Air is paying pilots less than the award rate
- Vortex Air has acknowledged it is in discussions with the union
- Last month, a Vortex Air pilot on a flight from Devonport to King Island fell asleep at the controls
The incident is under investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which said the pilot was the only person on board the freight flight on November 8.
The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) said it was working with a group of members who had been employed by Vortex Air.
“The AFAP is aware of allegations that pilots at Vortex Air are paid less than the award rate,” the union’s executive director Simon Lutton said in a statement.
“The AFAP is currently assisting members regarding claims of underpayment arising from their employment at Vortex Air.”
Mr Lutton said the union was “negotiating with the company on behalf of our members”.
Vortex Air acknowledged it was in discussion with the union, but declined to comment.
Incident prompts discussion about fatigue
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said it was conducting a review of Vortex Air’s fatigue management practices in light of the ATSB investigation.
“This includes site visits and interviews with key personnel,” CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.
“As this is an in-depth review, it will take some time to complete.”
The ATSB said its investigation into the King Island incident would be complete in the first quarter of next year.
It is the second recent investigation into an incident involving Vortex Air.
On the morning of March 29, 2017, a Piper PA-31-350 being flown by a Vortex Air pilot clipped a truck as it was landing at Barwon Heads, near Geelong in Victoria.
The ATSB found the pilot came in too low over Barwon Heads Road, and the landing gear hit the truck.
The pilot, who was the only person on board, landed the aircraft safely after radioing another pilot on the ground to ask if there was any visible damage.
There were no injuries and the aircraft and truck received minor damage.
In its report, the ATSB said it was told the pilot had recently taken on extra duties as the company’s maintenance controller and was distracted during the landing by the additional pressures.
The ABC understands the aircraft was on loan to Vortex Air from a different operator.