Captain Stephen Bird first referred to senior first officer Stephen Akers as his ‘bitch’ before their jet took off from Exeter to Spain, a tribunal heard.

When they later flew into turbulence,  Bird ignored Akers’s request to avoid dark clouds and the argument began, a hearing in Exeter was told yesterday.

Mr Akers allegedly called Captain Bird a ‘control freak’ and told him to ‘**** off’.

An investigation by Flybe resulted in the sacking of both men, both in their 50s and now representing themselves in an unfair dismissal case.

Captain Bird, of Northam, Devon, told the tribunal that banter was common between Flybe pilots, many of whom are ex-military.

Once on the ground Captain Bird said he always shakes the hand of his First Officer, but Akers told him: ‘You owe me a f***ing apology.’