Ex-pilot suing company of missing plane
A former pilot and mechanic is suing Island Hoppers, which has a plane missing on the Big Island, because the company allegedly fired him for revealing federal safety violations.
Michael Tennant filed the lawsuit Monday, one day before the company's Cessna disappeared with two passengers and a pilot on board.
The lawsuit says Tennant was hired by Above It All, doing business as Island Hoppers, in November and fired Jan. 7.
Attorney William Sink is filing the suit on behalf of Tennant. Sink's office said Tennant is currently in Nevada.
Tennant claims in the lawsuit that company supervisors retaliated against him after he refused to ignore Federal Aviation Administration regulations to save time and money.
Supervisors harassed Tennant, making him "fearful of going to work," the lawsuit said.
Tennant was told to ignore violations, which "posed a risk to all who traveled on Above It All's aircraft," the lawsuit said.
Tennant reported to government agencies and/or company supervisors of illegal activities at the company, including not checking repair manuals to see if work was authorized, not flushing gas lines to remove water and not reporting repairs in logbooks.
The lawsuit also accused the company of using unauthorized material from ACE Hardware to repair aircraft.
Island Hoppers supervisors were unavailable for comment yesterday.
Tennant is seeking back pay, future pay and fringe benefits.
In April, three months after Tennant was fired, an Island Hoppers single-prop aircraft made an emergency landing on a Big Island highway. No one was injured, and the company did not comment on the incident.
In its 18-year history, the company has had no fatalities, according to its Web site.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated in 2004 when an Island Hoppers plane crashed into a mountain on the Big Island. The pilot and two passengers sustained serious injuries.
The NTSB determined the cause of the crash was the weather, terrain and the pilot's inexperience with the area.