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Do any airline pilots refuse to fly, if wx is not below operating minima?

I’ve been told that the pilot is required to fly, and while a one-off might be ok, eventually he/she will lose the job.

Does this actually happen? What sort of procedure is there?

With the equipment a modern airliner (jet or turboprop) has, departure should be possible unless there is a TS actually over the airport.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The PIC isn’t required to do anything, he/she is responsible. Simply not flying because one feels like it? Why would that happen?

Yes, some operators will exert pressure, while others trust their pilots.

Can you give an example?

Freelance IRI / CB-IR Instructor
LOWG | Worldwide

From what I have heard talking to airline pilots, it is like in any other job: As an Employee you have to do your job unless you have a good reason not to do it. If you are paid for sales you can’t just say “I’m not serving this customer” unless you have a reason.

WX above minimums is a good indicator that a flight is actually possible. So the pilot who doesn’t want to do his job better has a good reason – but there are good reasons and no reasonable airline would force a pilot to fly who doesn’t want to.

If, however, there is one employee who often finds reasons why he can’t do his job, an employer will have a closer look – like in any other job as well ….


It is not like that we simply cancel departure if the dest wx is below min.
We can legally depart. Requirement is to have two alternates with good wx.
From my experience about 50% cases it turns that weather at dest becomes ok.
If not – we just divert to one of the alternates from where the pax are transported by buses to their destination. It is much more effective for the airline, safe and much “pleasant” for passengers than scrapping the flight completely.


Did you mean “if weather is below operating minima” of “if weather is not above operating minima” rather than “if wx is not below operating minima”? I’m not sure about terminology – the title sounds pretty odd to me.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Most commercial ops are reasonably binary and if the weather is above SOP minima the flight operates. MEL items may make the call less binary, and here the crew decides, with the Captain taking responsibility.

There are a lot more criteria in the SOPs than just weather minima on take off, destination and alternates.

Oxford (EGTK)

Robert – that’s obvious about MEL and other non-techs but wx alone does not and should not lead to flight cancellation.
Especially in Europe region where we have plenty of alternates with different weather not far away apart.

Last Edited by Raven at 23 Nov 10:31

RobertL18C wrote:

commercial ops are reasonably binary and if the weather is above SOP minima

I had a long chat with a UK flying instructor in 2012. He said that for his CPL the school made it clear that VFR minima = go; by implication choosing not to fly would be a fail. The reasoning was that this reflected real-life pressure: if it’s legal, you must depart. I don’t know if this was just one school or part of a wider culture. Upon reflection I’m probably fundamentally unsuited to commercial aviation

EGHO-LFQF-KCLW, United Kingdom

If weather is above legal minima, you can find 99% pilots who will do it
If weather is bellow legal minima, you can find 1% pilots who will do it

By applying Bayes rule, given 50%-50% weather, the flight has 50% chances (90*50+1*50) to go ahead: from the company perspective, the end result is not linked to what a single pilot decides, it has no impact on the flight dispatch rate in the long run, of course as long as you have other pilots who can “do the job on average”

Last Edited by Ibra at 23 Nov 10:59
ESSEX, United Kingdom

Capitaine wrote:

He said that for his CPL the school made it clear that VFR minima = go;
Don’t know about CPL, but for LAPL/PPL our ATO had OVC008 as minima for school flights..
EETU, Estonia
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