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Pilots’ union sues AA over training dispute

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AP) – American Airlines (AA) and its pilots’ union are fighting over the airline’s plan to change the way it picks pilots who help conduct a key part of training.

Pilots usually train in pairs. In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in federal district court, the Allied Pilots Association challenges American’s solution for handling situations in which one of the pilots going through training in a flight simulator is absent.

The union said that in such cases, the empty seat is currently filled by a “check” pilot who is specially trained to evaluate fellow pilots.

American wants to use regular co-pilots to volunteer as substitutes.

In either case, another check pilot will grade the performance of pilots going through training, but the union said the presence of a less-experienced substitute “seat filler” could distort the results of evaluations that are critical to careers.

The union accused American of proposing the change because it doesn’t have enough check pilots to hire and train new pilots – a contention that the airline disputes.