A North Sea pilot who was suspended and demoted after he took a video while flying a commercial helicopter has won the first stage of his tribunal case.

Mark Radcliff, an aircraft commander and captain, claims excessive vibration in the helicopters he operated to service oilfields caused his degenerative spine condition and would likely "end his career".

He believes protected disclosures about the US-built Sikorsky S-92 30 helicopter led to him being demoted to co-pilot.

The Herald: The pilot recorded a video to demonstrate working conditions in the helicopter Image: PAThe pilot recorded a video to demonstrate working conditions in the helicopter Image: PA (Image: PA)

According to tribunal papers, he was told by his consultant that his occupation was "a potential causal or worsening factor" in his back condition.

He claims a report produced by another company, Bristows, had shown that vibration in the S-92 had been an issue "and senior management in his company were aware of it".

He asked his employers, CHC Scotia Limited, if he could move to another type of helicopter. This would involve retraining and a cost to the firm and the request was not acted upon, according to the tribunal.

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After being on medical leave for a few months he emailed Peter Lagradi, manager of flight operations, and said his occupational health doctor was concerned about him returning to the S-92 without further adjustments or mitigations.

The doctor also requested access to the cockpit and vibration data from the firm.

The pilot wrote to the UK Operational Director explaining that continuing to fly the aircraft "could end his career".

On May 24, this year, he used his mobile phone to make a video recording of part of a routine flight to illustrate his working conditions. Three days later he was suspended along with the co-pilot.

He raised a grievance alleging that the company was blocking a detailed occupational health assessment.

He wrote again to Mr Lagradi and Chief Pilot Marco Massarini informing them of his grievance and disclosed that members of management had liked his videos on social media and "yet no one had raised a concern".

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He made reference to others making similar videos and posts and explained that his phone was at all times on flight-safe mode and was unaware of any policy or regulation preventing filming in the cockpit.

According to the paper Dr. Hyder, his consultant, wrote to the firm stating that he had been unable to complete his report because he had not been given access to the workplace or received relevant data.

On July 13 the disciplinary investigation outcome report concluded that the pilot should be disciplined.

At this point, he disclosed that other captains had taken photographs and videos of which the company management was aware and yet no action had been taken against them.

However, his employers said he had "fallen short of fulfilling his responsibilities as a Commander". They said he had breached a rule against not stowing away portable electronic devices which he argued " was an outdated rule that applied to passengers".

The grievance was not upheld and he was demoted to co-pilot. He appealed the decision and lodged an unfair dismissal claim seeking interim financial relief.

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Employment judge J M Hendry said the "raising of whistleblowing concerns, pushing for answers and then being severely disciplined" was suggestive of unfair dismissal.

He said the pilot had repeatedly raised the possible effect on his back condition of vibrations caused by the aircraft and there was a "marked reluctance" by his employers to provide the occupational health doctor with access to vibration data or the actual cabin layout.

He said: "Connected to this was the claimant passively taking a video of his working environment and being dismissed from his post as a consequence against a seeming background of managers being tolerant of the taking of photographs and videos in other circumstances.

He said the pilot had made protected disclosures on behalf of himself and other employees "whose health may be impacted by the working environment" and said a claim for unfair dismissal was likely to succeed.

 CHC Scotia Ltd, was not represented at the hearing and the judge acknowledged this meant the firm had not had an opportunity to respond.

However, it was ordered to reinstate the pilot to the rank of aircraft commander and captain from the date of termination of employment until the complaint is settled with salary and benefits backdated.