Don’t you just love it? Whenever dodgy or discriminatory words are used in the workplace and the whole sorry episode comes to be repeated (or replayed) in a disciplinary hearing, or (worse still) an ET, the stock excuse comes out: “it was only banter”, “I was only joking, nothing was meant by it”, which is roughly on a par with “the dog ate my homework, miss”.
It usually doesn’t wash and instead of being sent for an uncomfortable discussion with the headmaster, a P45 can often be the result. According to the BBC website that was exactly what happened to two Flybe pilots who had an argument in mid-flight, which led to one swearing at the other and refusing to shake hands. The Captain even refused to change course at the request of the First Officer to avoid bad weather. The Captain defended his comments as being made in “jest and a clearly jovial manner“. Footballers, in another display of “banter” would probably refer to this as “handbags”.
However, I’m sure I would not want the pilots on an aircraft I was in indulging in handbags, fisticuffs, or anything else that was diverting their attention from the job in hand. I certainly wouldn’t want to go through heavy turbulence just because the pilot was in a serious strop. Far better surely, to settle your differences in the car park at zero feet altitude than one mile up in charge of 100+ people? You can see why the employer took a dim view.
They both got dismissed and I can’t see anything legally of note about that decision. Of more interest is what might have caused the breakdown in relations? Football? Politics? Women? Or maybe, “I said turn right at Madrid and follow the E5?” “No, you said left …”
By the way, Gary Larson of The Far Side fame penned some fantastic cartoons about planes – like this one here