Savage Not a Terrorist Threat on My Plane, Says Sacked Airline Pilot; Gulf War Hero Lost His Job after Allowing Soccer Star in Cockpit

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 18, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Savage Not a Terrorist Threat on My Plane, Says Sacked Airline Pilot; Gulf War Hero Lost His Job after Allowing Soccer Star in Cockpit


Byline: Matthew Cooper

AN AIRLINE pilot sacked after allowing a former Welsh international footballer on to his jet's flight deck told an employment tribunal yesterday that the star posed no risk to the safety of the aircraft.

Pablo Mason, who lost his job with MyTravel in 2007, also accused his former employer of making "an absolute drama" out of a light-hearted incident in which he stripped to his underwear during a security check.

Giving evidence on the fifth day of the tribunal, Captain Mason said he had believed he was authorised to allow passengers into the cockpit during private charter flights.

The Birmingham tribunal heard last week how the former RAF hero, who saw service during the 1991 Gulf War, was sacked for breaching security regulations after letting midfielder Robbie Savage sit in the cockpit while flying Blackburn Rovers back to Manchester from Finland following a Uefa Cup match in August 2007.

Savage, who now plays for Derby County, asked Capt Mason if he could visit the flight deck.

The tribunal has heard how Capt Mason gave his permission after consulting with several passengers, including the club's manager, who said it was normally allowed on such flights, the tribunal heard.

Rules brought in after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks prohibit any passenger from entering the flight deck of a plane.

During interview, Capt Mason told Thomas Cook Airlines he made a "snap decision" which he later regretted, the tribunal heard last week.

He said he judged there to be no risk of a terror attack because the passengers on the plane knew each other.

The pilot has said it would have been embarrassing to refuse Savage because of such rules and allowing the team into the cockpit would "benefit them more than harm them".

Yesterday, Capt Mason told the tribunal he had not believed he was doing anything wrong in allowing Savage on to the flight deck after being told to use his initiative during the "vital" VIP flight.

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