Two Research in Motion Employees Fined for Disruption on Plane

Posted on January 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The police say that drunken unruliness by two executives of the BlackBerry maker Research in Motion forced the diversion and delay of a Toronto-to-Beijing flight on Monday. The two pleaded guilty to a criminal count of mischief and were suspended from their positions pending an investigation.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that they were informed by Air Canada that the plane was turning around and heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, to drop off the two disruptive passengers about seven hours after the flight left Toronto.
Cpl. Sherrdean Turley, a spokeswoman for the police, said in an e-mail that although the two men were not brawling “they were intoxicated and weren’t listening to anything they were told to do/asked to do by the airline crew.”
George Campbell, 45, and Paul A. Wilson, 38, both pleaded guilty in court to one count of mischief under Canadian criminal law. They were given suspended sentences and were each required to pay 35,878 Canadian dollars ($35,382) to Air Canada. They have been placed on probation for a year and may not travel on Air Canada or have contact with any of its employees.
Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, said the plane was just “north of Alaska” when it headed back to Canada. But the person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak to the media, said the plane was actually much closer to Beijing. The airline decided the plane should return to Canada because of concerns that Chinese law enforcement officials would impound the aircraft, a situation that would have cost Air Canada a substantial amount of lost revenue.
Other passengers became involved in the situation, which occurred in the executive class section, as Air Canada flight crew members tried to restrain the men. They were eventually separated and placed in plastic handcuffs. Both men are members of the airline’s elite frequent-flier programs, a person briefed on the case said.
What provoked the episode, other than alcohol, is unclear. The men were escorted off the plane by members of the mounted police and immediately arrested.
Mr. Fitzpatrick said that because the crew had reached its maximum flying time limit by that point, the airline had to put passengers up in a hotel overnight and resume the flight on Tuesday.
Both men live near RIM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the company, confirmed that they worked at RIM but declined to describe their positions.
“Based on the limited information available at this time, RIM has suspended the individuals involved pending further investigation,” Ms. Kennedy said in an e-mail.
Mr. Wilson could not be reached for comment. A person who answered the telephone at Mr. Campbell’s house said that he was not there.
Incidentally, it appears that none of the 312 other people aboard the Air Canada flight, which was ultimately delayed by 18 hours, pulled out a BlackBerry, or any other smartphone for that matter, to post a message about the episode.

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