FAA Investigates Flight Crew Contamination Threat

Eva Air’s recent industrial action generated interest and sympathy worldwide. Flight Attendants often bear the brunt of bad passenger behaviour. But in early 2019, an Eva Air passenger flying from Los Angeles to Taipei took bad passenger behaviour to a new level. This incident was the catalyst for industrial action by Eva Air’s flight attendants.

The industrial action threatened to cripple the Taiwanese airline operations and has only recently been settled.

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Eva Air recently settled with its flight attendants and the strike ended. Photo: EVA Air

But the behaviour from one union leader threatens to undermine much of the public goodwill towards the flight attendants and has drawn the ire of Eva’s management and the attention of the regulatory authorities like the FAA.

What happened?

A report in View From The Wing yesterday suggested that the head of the Flight Attendant’s Union threatened to spike the meals of crew members who crossed the picket line. In addition, the union head is accused of bullying and suggested union members would not close aircraft doors properly

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Paddle Your Own Kanoo says the union leader, Kuo Chi-yen, was sacked by Eva last month after making the threat. She says she was joking, but like a passenger making a bomb joke in an airport, the joke might be on her. No-one wants a pilot, crew member, or anyone getting sick from food contamination midway across the Pacific.

The strike, which ran from mid-June to early July 2019, pitted the union leaders and its members against the airline. Part of the settlement deal was the airline agreeing not to pursue union members who went on strike.

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One of the picket lines at the recent strike by Eva Air’s flight attendants. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

But it appears Kuo Chi-yen went too far. She is no longer employed by Eva Air.

What Eva Air has said

Eva is being circumspect about what exacting Kuo Chi-yen threatened. In a statement provided to Simple Flying, an Eva Air spokesperson said;

“Unfounded rumours are circulating that flight attendants who stayed with the strike from beginning to end will take revenge on those who returned to work before the action was over by not closing cabin doors properly.

“Misconduct involving deliberate food contamination would seriously endanger the flight safety record and service quality reputation that EVA and thousands of employees have worked very hard to build over the past 30 years.

If such an incident did occur, EVA would investigate and, depending on findings, take appropriate disciplinary actions against those responsible for the malicious acts.”

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Everyone needs to be confident that airline food is safe to eat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The FAA gets involved

The threat has piqued the interest of US government authorities. The FAA has asked Eva Air for an explanation. It wants an assurance that the safety of Eva’s aircraft operating in US airspace isn’t under threat by rogue food contamination threats.

Taiwan’s own civil aviation authority is also weighing in, wanting an explanation from the airline and questioning whether Kuo Chi-yen is to prosecuted or not.

Finally

While the incident occurred some months ago, reports are only now just emerging. What exactly was threatened and how serious those threats were is yet to be clarified. But if true, threatening to tamper with crew meals, including pilot meals, cannot be taken lightly. It is a serious thing to do.

Whether it was just bluster or not, Kuo Chi-yen may find herself transitioning from being a high profile union leader to a high profile criminal defendant.

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