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Wed, Mar 30, 2005

Fainting NZ Pilot Reinstated

Court Overrules CAA

Former Air New Zealand pilot Geoff Paterson has his medical ticket back, after he was grounded by New Zealand's Civil Aviation Administration because he... well, he faints.

Paterson has what doctors call "neurocardiogenic (or vasovagal) syncope." If you cut through the Latin, you find it means he has common fainting spells. He fainted in 1990 and 1995 and was allowed to fly, but not along. The third time, the 52-year old 767 captain was grounded in February, 2002, after he passed out during a layover in Tahiti. An independent medical examiner recommended authorities continue to let Paterson fly under the same provisions -- he had to pass his medical and he had to fly with another pilot. But this time, the CAA didn't buy it.

So Paterson appealed to New Zealand's judicial system. He told the court no pilot was reluctant to fly with him. Tuesday, the courts ordered Paterson reinstated.

"Every single pilot I have spoken to has shook my hand and said, 'thank goodness justice prevailed'," he told the New Zealand Herald. "It's been a long time coming. For me, it is a victory for common sense."

Well, don't drag out that logbook just yet. A spokesman for the CAA said the agency will probably appeal the court's decision.

FMI: www.airnz.com

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