View Full Version : PIA pilot fails breath test - Update - Not Guilty!

7th Feb 2005, 12:24
Pilot arrested after failing alcohol test.

A Pakistan International Airlines pilot was arrested at Manchester Airport after he failed a breath test for alcohol as he prepared for a longhaul flight.

The 51-year-old pilot from Pakistan was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of being over the legal limit to fly.

The man was due to fly 350 passengers on a Boeing 747 from Manchester to Lahore.

A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said that the pilot was bailed "pending further tests" until 24 March, reported the BBC.

The flight was delayed for 90 minutes while a replacement pilot was found.

No one from Pakistan International Airlines was available for comment.

Hope the guy is innocent.

Over to you BJCC. Should keep you going for another month or so.

7th Feb 2005, 14:05
From the Mcr Evening News.......

Drink cops arrest pilot on plane
POLICE at Manchester Airport boarded a jumbo jet moments before take-off and arrested the captain on suspicion of having drunk too much to fly.

Officers went into the cockpit of the Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747 with 350 passengers on board following claims that the pilot had been seen drinking earlier at a nearby hotel. The captain was escorted back into Terminal 2, where he was breathalysed.

He was arrested and taken to Stretford Police Station where he provided a blood sample before being released on bail pending the results.

Flight PK713, which was scheduled to depart at 10.30am on Saturday, eventually left at 11.54am after PIA drafted in a replacement pilot for the 4,000 mile trip to Karachi and then on to Lahore.

The Manchester Evening News understands police acted after receiving a report from a member of staff at the Britannia Hotel in Northenden.

A police spokesman said a 51-year-old man from Pakistan was arrested on suspicion of being over the legal limit to fly.

No one at the airline was available for comment.

In December, Finnair captain Heikki Tallila, 51, from Finland, became the first pilot in the country to be jailed after he was breathalysed shortly before a flight from Manchester to Turkey.

7th Feb 2005, 14:20
Is there something special about Manchester that pilots seem to be breathalysed there more than anywhere else in the UK? :confused:

7th Feb 2005, 15:40
arrested the captain on suspicion of having drunk too much to fly.

Having drunk too much to fly? What a crock.

7th Feb 2005, 16:23
This is the same Manchester that breath tested two pilots after
a dealing in a minor gear indication problem in an "unflappable"
way ??

This after a call from one of their passengers!!

7th Feb 2005, 16:30
There are simply too many who are enviously on our profession. Not only in Manchester...


7th Feb 2005, 16:47
Yeah, so envoius of us that they don't want to fly with us when we are pissed!! What a bunch of party poopers!

7th Feb 2005, 16:51
If there are many more cases like this it will be too embarrassing to admit to being an airline pilot, especially in Manchester!

Kaptin M
7th Feb 2005, 22:34
It's a fact of Life that some people have a problem with alcohol, regardless of their professions.
It's also highly likely that there are people who are alcohol dependent, employed in jobs where this dependency may well create a risk to other people or persons.

A quiet word by one of the other co-employees, suggesting the person step down for the day, would be a far better scenario than that described here.

My Father was admitted to hospital for removal of his adenoids and tonsils many years ago, the Doctor (who had obviously also beem imbibing pre-op, judging by the smell of alcohol on his breath) also removed Dad's uvala!

8th Feb 2005, 04:18
Unfortunately these incidents are becoming more frequently reported..what's the solution..a ban on drinking down route? Who's to say...but as mentioned above...over do it, call in sick...other guy did it? call yourself in sick

8th Feb 2005, 05:16
Must be something in England, MAN in particular, that drives pilots to the bottle...

Seriously though. Alcohol seems to be a much larger problem than I thought it would be. Or has it allways been like this and just the increase in random testing that brings the whole thing to light?

Slightly edited for those with no sense of humor.

8th Feb 2005, 05:39
looking at it percentagewise it's miniscule, but the press gets it and sensationalizes it......which is good....

Monkey C
8th Feb 2005, 09:18
How many negative tests are conducted? We never get to hear about them; from the public's perspective the police have a 100% record. Every time the public hear about a pilot getting breath tested, it turns out the pilot is over the limit. Scary?


8th Feb 2005, 10:43
In response to Monkey C, the police do in fact publish the ratio of negative/positive tests - particulary at Christmas time. However negative tests are not news so you will very rarely see them published anywhere.

Off the top of my head I think must police forces had about a 10% positive rate last Christmas.

8th Feb 2005, 15:26
I'm probably sticking my neck out here, but I think all pilots and cabin crew should be breathalysed at reporting time.

Some may argue this violates our rights as crew, but what do you have to fear if you play by the rules?

Devils Advocate
8th Feb 2005, 16:08
I agree... just as it should be made the same for MP's entering the Houses of Parliament ( imagine how diabolical it might be were they under the influence when voting on matters of State ), and likewise for Judges befor they enter a court, and so to for Doctors & Surgeons & Nurses, and then there's the local lollypop lady, and what about the teachers at my kids school, and the ...... anybody for any more...... we can't be too careful can we ?

ILS 119.5
8th Feb 2005, 18:04
I agree with mandatory testing on arrival. Not to highlight alchohol problems amongst the aviation industry, but to save money. It is far more beneficial for a company to pay for a day off sick rather than replace a fully qualified and competent pilot. Due to the new legislation we all have to re educate ourselves and maybe change, slightly, our lifestyles. As said in other posts the business we are in is not like it was, nor will ever be. Luckily, I am leaving the airline and will be flying for fun from the beginning of March. I am happy to be doing it after 20 years of commercial flying.

10th Feb 2005, 12:22
I simply said just because he was a PIA pilot don't assume he's muslim..thats it !

10th Feb 2005, 18:43
Interesting thread. Though I hate to see it being turned into a slagging contest. So much has been said regarding the offending PIA pilot being a muslim, that a phone call to Karachi and a PIA pal was in order. I'll try to state the facts:-

1. Yes it was a PIA captain detailed to operate the B-777 MAN-LHE service.

2. Parents- Father (Muslim) Mother (Catholic).

3. PIA has/had employed Christians, Parsis, Hindus, Buddhists etc. A few years ago the DFO was a christian pilot, and other christian pilots have held management positions in PIA Flight Ops.

4. Pakistanis irrespective of their religion like to drink alcohol. Most Parlaimentarians, Judges, Ministers, Bureaucrats, Generals & those occupying the highest offices drink alcohol habitually; despite its being banned for Muslims.

5. Most world class brands of alcohol are freely available on the black market as is the locally produced beer and spirits.

6. An inquiry is being held, and if found guilty as charged the concerned PIA pilot faces dismissal from service.

Cheers :ok:

11th Feb 2005, 11:59
Not different at all. Just a point to say that they can drink, but don't have to.
As for drinking on duty, that is [as has been said before,] sheer stupidity no matter what your Faith/Beliefs

12th Feb 2005, 11:58
The next muppet to introduce religion into this thread will get an automatic ban from PPRuNe. I am fed up to the back teeth with idiots who ruin anything posted on here with their prejudices and ignorance.

The religion of the pilot is irrelevant to this thread and no thanks to the dipstick who introduced the issue into the debate in the first place, as soon as you did that the thread starts to wander off into the murky arena of spotters and anoraks debating the rights and wrongs of different religious practices. So what if the pilot was or wasn't a Muslim? Have none of you ever heard of secularism? Are some of you so brainwashed by media hype that anyone of a particular faith has to be an orthodox follower of that faith? Give me and everyone else on here a break and go find yourselves an anorak website where you can go and debate your pathetic worries or prejudices and leave us alone on here to deal with every day real issues that affect aircrew.

I don't want to see any more posts on the issue of religion and what is allowed or not by it. The faith of the pilot concerned is irrelevant and I'll thank you not to bring it up on this website. Savvy? :*

13th Feb 2005, 07:39
This business of the police acting on reports from hotel staff, bus drivers, and the like is becoming worrying. It appears that anybody who wishes to can make a nuisance call, and have a departure disrupted. And unnecessary suspicion directed at a professional going about his work. And unsettle the passengers on the flight. And upset the pilot concerned, who may consequently refuse to operate the flight.

(I am assuming that the police have tested many pilots and had 99% negative results)

Is BALPA doing much to ensure that the police act according to a national SOP in this area?

cargo boy
13th Feb 2005, 08:28
(I am assuming that the police have tested many pilots and had 99% negative results)You know what they say about assuming! :rolleyes:

Try "the police have tested very FEW pilots and had 99.9% negative results".

Once again, take the numbers of pilots taking control of a commercial airliner every day, multiply that by 365 and then compare that to the number of pilots breath tested every day and found to be over the limit and multiply that by 365 and then compare the two results. It's one thing to be breath tested and it's another to be found over the limit.

Now we wait for the inevitable chorus of the righteous brigade who will gladly throw away a few more of our civil liberties and demand that every pilot be breath tested before every flight. :rolleyes: In reply will come the other chorus of the statistics brigade who will point out that you can count the number of airline accidents related to alcohol in the last 20 years on the fingers of one hand that has had an 80% amputation. :rolleyes:

I think it's safe to say that I'm in the second camp. If you want to guarantee a 100% safety record in aviation... stop flying. :hmm:

Piltdown Man
13th Feb 2005, 10:02
Thanks a bunch Matey (Touch'n'oops)! When you eventually get a job you will regret that suggestion. As you may find out, there are enough plonkers in Aviation Prevention (Security, Cleaners, Airport Operations, Loaders etc...) already. The risk to Joe Public is so small that it is not worth the effort for such a programme. A suggestion like that deserves you to be tested before you drive your car - every day, for life - because that is where the real risk is!

13th Feb 2005, 19:07
So far as has been reported then 5 pilots have been tested, and 3 failed. That's 60% fail.

BALPA can try to make Police act is a SOP in that area, but BALPA don't make the decision, the police officer does. In any event is it right that a union should dictate what a police officer can and cannot do?

Sorry to say this, but welcome to the real world, where people do ring police about many things, some real, some not.

15th Feb 2005, 06:14
Landmark, your mail is full of typos, indicating you may well be over the limit! The police have been informed anonymously, and are keeping an eye on your property in case you should decide to attempt to drive your vehicle in the next 12 hours.

Get my drift? There is nothing wrong with prosecution of drivers who are over the limit, be they motorists or pilots. But there has to be some form of organised procedure to prevent malicious or hoax calls being followed up on every occasion. Public hysteria and media piffle is contributing to this problem.

And I was not suggesting a union should devise procedures or laws, simply help the authorities tackle the problem in an advisory capacity from a position of professional expertise. (I am not a BALPA member, incidentally).

What does dissing mean?

15th Feb 2005, 08:37
Roy Hudd
I think "dissing" is a with it Chav word!
Nuff said.

15th Feb 2005, 08:54
"Dissing" .... To show disrespect to, often by insult or criticism

I wonder how I've got this far through life without ever running into the word:{

15th Feb 2005, 10:55
Actually I had drunk a half bottle of wine when I typed that, then again, not sure being drunk in charge of a PC is an offence and I had no intention of driving.

Other than the very obvious ones, could you enlighten the emergency services on how to spot a hoax/malicious call.It would save thousands.

Somebody rings the police suggesting that a driver/pilot is drunk, then I would think the police are duty bound to make enquiries into it. Imagine the situation if something did happen and it was on record that the police had done nothing..............I think some people on this forum would be looking for the nearest rock to crawl under.

15th Feb 2005, 12:00
its far too risky to even smell a beer the day before dont care what they do. Dont put yourself in that position. Where could uot turn. Absoloutly :mad:

22nd Feb 2005, 20:15
I can SWEAR that yesterday i-e Monday I read a post here by the PIA pilot. It was his letter to his Chief Pilot Training, detailing the incident in MAN. It's surprising that the post has been deleted in totality. Yes it had the name of the MAN hotel and other names in it, but still this is denying information and a blow to free speech :eek:

Captain Airclues
22nd Feb 2005, 21:20

I saw the post to which you refer. However, the post, supposedly by the PIA Captain, made some very serious accusations against a named hotel and it's staff. We cannot be suprised if the PPRuNe lawyers were not happy with this. I'm sure that he will be given the chance to prove these allegations in court, and if proved, they would make an excellent defence.


23rd Feb 2005, 04:13
...he was complaining that this hotel has changed water for the wine.

23rd Feb 2005, 08:34
It's surprising that the post has been deleted in totality.
I saw it too Ven ..... the problem with editing by "Mods" is that you then expect them to be "Libel Lawyers" and that is something they are not ......

The letter did expose another side to the story and let's hope it helps the guy expose the truth

23rd Feb 2005, 08:40
The post was made but it was decided to pull it as it made certain allegations that couldn't be verified at the time and also had a lot of information including names of private individuals that had nothing to do with the core details of the incident. I will post the edited version here, shortly.

History of PIA Forum Index -> PIA & Pakistan Aviation Discussion Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic
Author Message
Registered Member


Feb 8, 2005

Chief Pilot Training PIAC
Karach i

Reference: PK 716, Feb 052005, Man-Lhe


I had accompanied my friend Mr **** **** (deaf and dumb person), his wife and infant daughter alo.ng with a triend of Mr ****, Mrs **** **** also a deaf and dumb lady with a 9year old son, ****, and F/O **** for dinner at Hotel ***** at 1920 hours. The 9-year old son, ****, wanted roast lamb trom the buffet and I carved a piece for him. As I was doing this, the chef appeared and objected, saying that I have carved a double or triple piece and I was not allowed to do this. I told him that it was for the little boy and left 20 pounds with him for socalled damages although this was a buffet and we assumed that we could help ourselves to the food available there.

The chef complained to the police the next morning at 8:40 am after we had departed for the airport at 0830 AM. The Manchester police came to the aircraft at 1010 AM and said that they were arresting me on the complaint of the chef upon whose insistence they wanted me to take a breath test. This was done in the first class toilet, outside the cockpit. Then they took me to the police station for a blood test, as breath tests are conducted for road traffic violations. However, since 1 had not broken any traffic laws therefore it was decided that on the chef's insistence I should undergo a blood test. Please note that the Manchester police officers were unclear as to what specific charges under their jurisdiction they were arresting me for. Although I tried to contact PIA traffic and PIA Operations at Manchester airport, no one was available to me so I could point out these issues to them on the spot or the fact that the Manchester Police had entered a Pakistan aircraft upon the insistence of a British citizen and applied unknown/inapplicable British laws to me.

Furthermore, the management of Hotel ***** colluded in this plot to deliberately defame the airline as they provided my flight departure information to the police ten minutes after I had checked out. Given the strained relations between PIA and the hotel in view of past tensions and the early cancellation of contract with Hotel ***** , the management had incentive to defame the airline and its crew. It is quite possible that I was administered something in my food or water and coke over dinner the night before. I would also like to point out that the Hotel management did not approach me to resolve the issue or ask me my version; instead they took the extreme step of involving the police after I had checked out of the hotel.

This was a fabricated and premeditated case lodged against me due to racial and religious discrimination and motivated by the desire to defame the national airline.

This is being submitted for your information.

Capt ***** *****

Whilst the bulk of the content is left as was submitted, there is no independent verification that the post is in fact from the pilot concerned. Also, I ask that the muppets who are unable to control their bigoted and xenophobic urges to refrain from posting on this thread as deletion may offend! Stick to the issues related to THIS INCIDENT and keep it educated and calm.

23rd Feb 2005, 21:36
That's an incredible read...

So maybe one has to test oneself now in case the hotel is trying to shaft someone, or a hidden camera film crew is trying to shaft someone... or a receptionist at a hotel gets dumped by a pilot....and guess what... yep she's going to try and shaft him (or him/her) it really is getting silly.

I don't think it will be long before pilots check themselves out before report to be sure (even if they were being extra careful thinking they were drinking nothing 24 hours before). I understand that some airlines now have random testing of crew (not CAA/JAA) but the actual airlines themselves. Searching on google for breathalysers brought up a few products, one company of which is now advertising here on prune -Site (http://www.know4sure.co.uk)

So even as JAR says, the prudent pilot should not drink 24 hours before a flight it would not have helped the above story if they were slipping him something!!:ugh:


Few Cloudy
24th Feb 2005, 15:01
Once again - now the names are anonymous - I know the Captain concerned personally and he is an honest, straight forward, friendly type.

I hope that justice will be done.


25th Feb 2005, 09:48
A strange story- the chef (not the waiter or restaurant manager) complains you have taken some extra slices of meat so you give him 20 quid to shut him up - then he reports you! Are buffets really that expensive in Manchester? If it happened to me I would ask to see the manager and try to sort it out with him.

Would the chef really be able to insist the pilot was given a blood test? Normally that is up to the police or you can insist on it yourself. A policewoman friend once told me that if you fail the breath test then it is not wise to ask for a blood test as it normally gives a higher result.

25th Feb 2005, 10:50
A policewoman friend once told me that if you fail the breath test then it is not wise to ask for a blood test as it normally gives a higher result.

Not if you are a borderline case as it could take an hour or so to get down to the station for the blood test. Meanwhile your body is doing it's best to remove the poison from your system.

Seen it happen.:uhoh:

25th Feb 2005, 18:29
Depends on your stomach contents (food:alcohol), your body mass and your metabolism. The point she made to me was that the breath testers are set very much to underread your alcohol level.
Bit off topic, but worth remenbering when you have an extra shandy and are cycling home from your local!!!

25th Feb 2005, 20:17

She's right, blood does often give a higher reading than breath.

In this case, he had no option, he failed the screening breath test, (which was done because the policeman not the chef decided) and was then arrested. He then had no option but to provide a blood test, because that was what he was required to give.

This will be interesting if he gets charged and pleads not guilty at court. Just how many micky finns does he suggest were fed to him for him to fail a breath test over 12 hours later? And of course for him not to notice??????????

That's leaving aside the possibility that the chef was still on duty at the Hotel some 13 hours after his dealings with the pilot. Not to mention how convinent that all these other people conspired with him..........

26th Feb 2005, 02:14
I can't believe that nobody can be given any alcohol in such amounts that he is still over the limit 12 hours later against one's own will.

Flying Lawyer
28th Feb 2005, 06:52

That's a rather cynical response to the additional background information

You're always extremely reluctant to accept that police officers might have acted improperly/unlawfully on these occasions yet, in stark contrast, when it's suggested a pilot might actually be innocent you're reluctant to accept that possibility.


31st Mar 2005, 03:51
‘Drink’ pilot passes test

First published: 30 Mar 2005

A PAKISTANI pilot who was pulled from his cockpit suspected of having drunk too much will not face charges.
A blood test by Manchester police revealed the pilot had been drinking but that he was not over the limit.
The incident took place last February at Manchester Airport as the pilot's Pakistani International Airlines Boeing 747 was about to take-off for Karachi with 350 passengers.
The captain was spoken to by police officers and escorted back into terminal 2 where he was breathalysed.
He was then arrested and taken to Stretford police station where he provided a sample of his blood.

He was then freed on police bail pending a blood test which proved negative.
No-one was available for comment at PIA's Manchester and London offices.

First published by the Asian News

31st Mar 2005, 04:05
That is a very good news indeed! Hope his name will be cleared publicly as well!

Captain Airclues
31st Mar 2005, 09:21
From an earlier post by the Captain concerned;

"The chef complained to the police the next morning.....However, since I had not broken any traffic laws therefore it was decided that on the chef's insistence I should undergo a blood test."

I assume that there will be an apology from the chef (and the hotel).


31st Mar 2005, 13:40
Great news.

See you on your next trip to MAN, Cap'n.:ok:

31st Mar 2005, 14:13
Once again - now the names are anonymous - I know the Captain concerned personally and he is an honest, straight forward, friendly type.

FC's post ..... I hope he is as delighted with the news as much as I am !!!! .... :ok:

31st Mar 2005, 14:31
Good news!!

I hope all those that criticised will now stand up and add their voices.

Captain, I'm sure you will overcome the present difficulties and resume your successful career.

Good Luck


Green Guard
1st Apr 2005, 08:41
So far so good !
Right ?
Wrong !

What about that sleasebag called "Chief" ?

Should he/she not undergo some kind of anti-idiotic testing any time soon ?

Captain Airclues
1st Apr 2005, 09:23
Manchester police revealed the pilot had been drinking but that he was not over the limit.

I thought that the new limit only allowed for the natural alcohol in the body. If this guy was below this very low limit then how can the police say that he had been drinking? Are the police trying to justify taking action on the word of the chef?

Do PIA (and the Captain) have any case against either the hotel or the police for the costs of the delay?


stator vane
1st Apr 2005, 09:45
evidence indicates that if we were not in uniform, most of this could be avoided.

we almost get strip searched when in uniform anyway.

so like the real heros we could duck into the phone booth or local loo next to the gate check in and become "pilot man" or "pilot woman"

or maybe just lose the ties! would be a good start!

Charles Darwin
1st Apr 2005, 12:37
I heard PIA is now blaming some local pub in Manchester for giving the captain the wrong type of lubrication:=

1st Apr 2005, 13:32
"he was complaining that this hotel has changed water for the wine"

If this should have read "changed water into wine"
tell me where......

My apologies for being donked by Mod earlier for inferring that you needed a few drinks to suffer staying overnight in Manchester.

2nd Apr 2005, 11:05
This sounds like a possible case of wrongful arrest. As far as I understand the law, you CANNOT be arrested unless you are informed why at the time.

Was the chef on duty for breakfast too? Just a thought..... :suspect:

I personally don't like vodka and milk in my breakfast tea.

Not that any inference should be taken by those latter two, totally unconnected pragraphs... ;)

Few Cloudy
2nd Apr 2005, 18:30
Yes Hobie, I am very pleased. I have visited this captain's house and met his family.

Let's hope some kind of investigation is now made into the frame up.


2nd Apr 2005, 18:43
Let's hope some kind of investigation is now made into the frame up.
..... and so say all of us :ok:

4th Apr 2005, 06:13
I'll second that - the news is the best that one could hear.

If I were the guy though I'd start fighting back and taking legal action against an obviously bodged situation.

From what I hear the guy is too nice to do such a thing - but take it from me - I'd personally enjoy the experience.

6th Apr 2005, 19:26
Agree with Touch'n'oops. In fact I would expand it. There should be no part of our lives not open to examination and inspection if it means reducing infractions. I would say cameras in the cockpit and recorders in the cockpit and let the authorities review them periodically for possible infractions. If we are doing it right, nothing to fear. If it works out well in air transport, definitely move it into our private lives. Imagine, no crime in our homes, offices, autos, etc. It would be utopia.

6th Apr 2005, 20:01
Yes Saline...and the police would be able to stop us anywhere at anytime and demand to see "Yor Payperz"...and demand to know "vie you are out at zis hour " and "ver are you going...?"

Now Saline..why don't you sit down quietly for a while in a nice dark room and we'll play you some soft soothing music....

6th Apr 2005, 20:01
So, Touch'n'oops, you see nothing wrong with testing everyone, eh? The problem, is that people make mistakes, and gov't folks seem to make more than their fair share. Do you want some 19 year-old interpreting your breathalizer? How about a brand new 20 year-old Technician interpreting your blood results -- maybe he'll use sterile gloves when he handles your sample, maybe not. Or, what if one of those folks who holds your fate in their hands, has a dislike for well-to-do people like you, or maybe he simply dislikes pilots. Point is, there are so, so many avenues for abuse, mistakes, and incompetence, along the way, you're at great risk for false results. I could tell a few stories of complete and undeniable abuse of power by supposedly "unbiased" parties, here in the U.S.. Like a Flight Attendant whose urine sample was deliberately made "positive." The lawsuit by the injured party found that his own company, the lab, and even a physician, conspired to produce a false result. Why? Because the FA was attempting to organize a union. I could tell of others.

How about video in the cockpit?

After the accident, the newspaper will be told that there was an inexplicable and complete loss of power on the right engine. Unable to explain it, even after exhaustive engine-remnant examination, the authorities have concluded that they saw you, the First Officer, on video, flipping the Fuel Cut-off Switch, to off. Except, the truth of the matter, is that you were simply picking up the pen that was lying underneath the switches, or maybe the trim switches were very close by. But, who cares? The authorities have closed the book on this one and, blamed you for the deaths of everyone aboard -- your family can live with it.

I noticed that under your Interests, you wrote, "Not getting caught." Considering you advocate complete openess, I find that to be a very strange and ironic philosophy.

Believe me, we want no more incursions into our privacy.

Agree with Touch\'n\'oops. In fact I would expand it. There should be no part of our lives not open to examination and inspection if it means reducing infractions. I would say cameras in the cockpit and recorders in the cockpit and let the authorities review them periodically for possible infractions. If we are doing it right, nothing to fear. If it works out well in air transport, definitely move it into our private lives. Imagine, no crime in our homes, offices, autos, etc. It would be utopia.

Saline, let me guess...you voted for GW Bush :rolleyes:

But maybe (I hope) you\'re just kidding

6th Apr 2005, 20:25
You are better off taking the breath test.

The two systems are set up so that the mean alcohol concentration is measured and then 5 standard deviations are taken off to get the result which is printed out. Hence the result is not, "x mg per 100ml" but, "without a shadow of a doubt more than x mg/100ml". This avoids any legal arguments about measurement accuracy. If the SD was zero a person on the limit would score at the limit whether he took the breath test or the blood test. However, the breath test is inherently less precise and so the SD is bigger and effectively more gets taken off to produce the final reading. This is recognised as favouring the suspect who takes the breath test but is tolerated because the breath test is easier, cheaper and less messy to administer. A policeman can do it rather than a medical professional. In the UK two or more tests are done, separated by 2 hrs. You are not guilty till they get two consecutive results over the limit and they won't let you go till you give two consecutive specimens below the limit.

The limits, especially for commercial flying, are pretty low. It is a pain having to be careful about a couple of glasses of wine at dinner the night before, but is it worth your licence?

16 blades
6th Apr 2005, 21:03
I can't see the logic in that. If a breath test shows you are OVER the limit, what would you possibly have to lose by demanding a blood sample? It will normally take time for a doctor to arrive and take the sample, time that all works in your favour. The average body can shift 1 unit of alcohol in 1 hour - so by the time the blood sample is taken, especially if your are JUST over the limit, the result could be very different. I understand that the blood sample would take premacy as it is considered a more accurate test?

The way I see it there are only2 possible outcomes to a positive breath test:

Breath test over limit - leave it at that - GUILTY.
Breath test over limit - take your chances - demand blood test.

Then either:

1. Blood test over limit - GUILTY.
2. Blood test under limit - NOT GUILTY.

Where;s the disadvantage?

NOT that I am condoning deliberate alcohol consumption before a period of duty, but as someone already said, we all make a mistake from timt to time.


6th Apr 2005, 21:28
You don't have any choice about taking a breath test.
If you refuse the field test at the scene, you'll be arrested.
(Edit: At the police station, the police can ask you to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine - their choice.)
If you refuse again, you'll be prosecuted for refusing.

Apart from the margin for error in favour of the suspect, what you've been told about the police station procedure is wrong.

According to you, you're not guilty unless you're still over the limit 2 hours after failing the first test. That's not correct.

Then you say "They won't let you go till you give two consecutive specimens below the limit." :eek:
What, they wait another 2 hours after the first test to see if a second test also shows below the limit? That's not correct.
If you were right and the second one showed over the limit (very unlikely) then what would happen? :confused:
Do they wait another 2 hours to see if they can get the second 'over the limit' reading which (according to you) they need before they can prosecute you ;)

Nope, what you've said is totally wrong.
If the basic field breath test shows you below the limit, that's the end of the breath test procedure. If it shows you over, you'll be arrested and taken to a police station.
At the police station you'll be breath-tested on a more sophisticated machine which measures your blood/alcohol level. ie Not just over or under.
If the reading shows you below the limit, that's it. Finito. You'll be released.

Even if you're over the aviation limit, the police can't keep you there unless you're obviously drunk. You'll be released and, provided your alcohol level is under the road limit, you could even legally drive home - using the time to think how you're going to explain to your family and friends why you're probably about to lose your job and probably be going to prison. Not a happy prospect.

16 blades
Agreed, except I'm not sure you can demand a blood test.
If you're offered one, as you say, there's nothing to lose by taking it because you'll be no worse off and you might gain.

7th Apr 2005, 11:00
Can Danny advise if this was one of the airport hotels? plus any further clues as an occasional MAN nightstopper I'm more than a bit interested in this one.
I hope the PIA Captain sues the arse over all concerned.
The usual "rights without reponsibility" from pointer of fingers.

8th Apr 2005, 16:03
I'm just glad he was found Not Guilty and hope his career fully recovers.

8th Apr 2005, 17:47

You're right mostly except for the procedure at the police station.

In the case of aircrew, then Police have a power to ask for a specimen of breath, or blood or urine.

However, they have agreed with the CAA that usualy a blood test will be required.

That invloves calling a doctor. Who, depending on how busy he is, can take between 10 minutes to 11.5 hrs to arrive. Only a doctor can take a blood test.

As has been stated, while waiting for a doctor, the BAC will not stay static, it could be either going down, or up depending on when the prisoners last drink was.

After a blood test has been taken, then usualy a person will be bailed while it is tested. I say usualy, because there can be times when that can be delayed.

I don't know where northwing gets the 2 tests seperated by 2 hours from. But it is not correct.

In answer to another point, the reason why Greater Manchester Police said this pilot had been drinking is because that is what the result of the blood test told them.

Will there be some form of enquiry? I doubt it very much. I doubt it is in the interests of the pilot to have one.

Flying Lawyer
8th Apr 2005, 18:56

I'm concerned that air crew might be misled by your reference to the protocol agreed between the police and the CAA into thinking that means they won't be asked to provide a specimen of breath at the police station or, if they are, they can refuse and insist on providing a blood sample.
It is a protocol which the police have agreed, but it is not part of the legislation and the police are not legally bound by it.

If asked to provide a specimen of breath then, as has already been said correctly: “You don't have any choice about taking a breath test.”

In the LHR / Royal Brunei case, the pilot was required to provide a specimen of breath, and did so. He was then offered the opportunity to provide a sample of blood , which he also did.

A suspect has no right to choose the type of specimen.
If he is required to provide a speciment of breath and refuses then, subject to very limited exceptions, he commits an offence and will be prosecuted.

It would not be a defence to say ‘I offered to provide a sample of blood instead’, nor 'But the Police agreed with the CAA that they'd normally require a blood sample."

The reason for the agreement to which you refer was a concern that the machines were not sufficiently accurate to measure the minute amount of alcohol relevant to aviation cases where the limit is so low that the difference between no alcohol at all and a minute amount of alcohol is the difference between innocent and offence.
I'm told that many machines at police stations near airports have now been calibrated to measure 'aviation' levels accurately, and that all will be in due course. I don't know if that's true but, if/when all are suitable for measuring aviation levels, it's possible the agreement may be terminated as unnecessary - I don't know.


I agree it’s unlikely there will be an inquiry, but what a pity you couldn’t resist adding: “I doubt it is in the interests of the pilot to have one.”

I’ve noticed in each of these ‘alcohol’ threads that you’re always very quick to come up with some explanation which does or might justify the actions of police officers (all discussions), airport security guards (the LHR/Royal Brunei case), idiotic passengers (the other Manchester incident where a passenger suggested the pilots must have been drinking because it was a heavy landing and the police decided they should breathalise both pilots) and hotel staff (this one), and are vigorous in defending them against any criticism.
In stark contrast, for some reason, you never extend the same generosity of spirit to pilots - and show a marked reluctance to accept that a pilot might actually have behaved impeccably and be completely innocent.

8th Apr 2005, 19:21
Flying Lawyer.
This is surely indicative of the mindset which Parliament had in mind in enacting the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 ( for all its shortcomings)?

8th Apr 2005, 20:37
Kaptin M

"A quiet word by one of the other co-employees, suggesting the person step down for the day, would be a far better scenario than that described here"

I'm sorry but that "old boys network" type of talk is no longer acceptable in society and I'm frankly amazed by some of the comments on here suggesting some sort of witch hunt by the authorities in MAN, get a grip, if every pilot was tested for alcohol before flying then that would be OK by me, somewhat impracticle I know but the 350 odd people sitting behind you would feel a darn sight better

I'm gonna get off my high horse now and go drink a few "Paul Wellers"



8th Apr 2005, 20:57
Might be an idea to breath test all of the pax before they got onboard too...It would certainly improve flight safety too.

16 blades
9th Apr 2005, 00:30
Just out of interest, for the puritans here, exactly how many incidents / accidents in air travel have been attributed to alcohol, as a primary or aggravating factor? What do they represent as a percentage of hours / journeys flown, maybe factored per passenger for a meaningful comparison? Contrast this with the number of road fatalities attributed to alcohol.

I am asking the question because I cannot recall A SINGLE INCIDENT in the whole history of mass air transport that has been declared as such.

I am more than happy to be corrected here.


9th Apr 2005, 00:31
Flying Lawyer

I can't see how it could mislead anyone. No, the protocol is not part of the legislation, and both you and I have explained ad nausam what the legislation says.

What I said was:

'In the case of aircrew, then Police have a power to ask for a specimen of breath, or blood or urine.

However, they have agreed with the CAA that usualy a blood test will be required.'

Note para 1, the words Police have a power to ask for, and, the word usualy in para 2.

Explaining my further comment, no, it is not in the pilots interest. I have a feeling you are as aware as I am of why is is not, if the report which is quoted as comming from him did in fact do so.

Yes he was lawfully arrested, he failed a breath test when required to provide one by a Constable. Not a breath test requirement made by a chef.

The fact is yes, he then provided a blood test which was below the limit, again you know as well as I do that does not mean that at the time he was arrested he was below the limit.

Yes, I will leap to the defence of Police in most cases, partly because there should be a balance and partly because having done the job, I can see it from thier side, the officers concerned cannot answer some of the misguided comments made about them. In the same way, you leap to the defence of pilots, even though you are probably as aware of the score as I am.

As regards to airport security, it's obvious you are not as well aware of the rules they work under, and I doubt you complain too often in court when information has led to the arrest and conviction for any other offence?

9th Apr 2005, 01:05

It is called "Peer Intervention" and the idea that people can admit to drink & drug problems without fear of punishment and look for rehabilitation.

Flying Lawyer
9th Apr 2005, 10:23

I explained why I thought your reference to the protocol might mislead readers.

"No, it is not in the pilots interest. I have a feeling you are as aware as I am of why is is not, if the report which is quoted as comming from him did in fact do so."
Your feeling is wrong - I don't agree with you.
The difference between us is that your starting-point is that the pilot was (or might have been) guilty and lucky to get away with it, whereas I'm happy to presume he was innocent. He claims (if the report comes from him) that he was fitted up maliciously. Given what people who know him have said about him, I've got no reason to suggest he's a liar.
I don't think there will be an inquiry, and don't think it would achieve anything if there was. If his drink was spiked in readiness for tipping off the police, the chances of proving it are very remote.

"Not a breath test requirement made by a chef."
Make allowance for lay people's descriptions of events. They aren't as familiar with procedures/terminology as you.
If he knows the police turned up as a result of an allegation from the hotel that he'd been seen drinking heavily, and the police breathalise him, then in his mind (and in ordinary language) he was breathalised because of what someone at the hotel said. He knows he had a disagreement with the chef the previous evening, so the chef is obviously his prime suspect. He might even have been told it was the chef who called the police - we don't know.

" .... again, you know as well as I do that does not mean that at the time he was arrested he was below the limit."
Again, there you go. ;)
No, it doesn't necessarily mean he was, but why even mention it except to imply he might have been guilty and lucky to get away with it?

Some comments about the police in these cases are "misguided", but not all are. eg In the Manchester 'heavy landing' incident I would have had been very interested to know how on earth the police felt justified in breathalising even one of the pilots let alone both.
I'm inclined to think it would be better if the decision whether to breathalise pilots on board public transport aircraft had to be made by a police officer of supervisory rank (sergeants or above), but I doubt if you'd agree with that. It would, I appreciate, mean a supervisory rank attending to deal.

"In the same way, you leap to the defence of pilots, even though you are probably as aware of the score as I am."
I don't. I'm sorry to say so, but you always come across to me as having a chip on your shoulder about pilots and I merely try to encourage you to keep more of an open mind and to persuade you that people suspected of offences may genuinely be totally innocent, not just legally 'not guilty.' I suspect what you and I see as "the score" is very different.

I don't claim to know the detail of rules under which airport security guards work, but I do draw a distinction between someone doing his job, or duty as a responsible citizen, and someone motivated by a personal grudge or prejudice.

This isn't the first time you've suggested you and I 'know the score' and, debating aside, probably agree. I wish you wouldn't. I genuinely rarely agree with your opinions which, in my view, are far too extreme and one-sided.
You claim to be redressing the balance. I can't remember you showing any sign of being able to undertand things from the suspect's side - in this context, the pilots' side.

9th Apr 2005, 21:47
Question for Flying Lawyer:
The police need "reasonable suspicion" to demand a breath test.
In the Manchester 'heavy landing' incident, as you infer, it would be interesting to know what they thought was "reasonable".
If the pilots had refused to provide a breath test, would they have a defence in law? i.e. can you say "no, you have no reasonable suspicion, therefore I have no need to undertake a breath test".
Do the police even have to tell you what the "reasonable suspicion" is? i.e "someone smelt alcohol on your breath" "you're speech is slurred" "an anonymous tip"...etc.?

Flying Lawyer
10th Apr 2005, 09:32
Can you say "no, you have no reasonable suspicion, therefore I have no need to undertake a breath test"?
The short answer, for all practical purposes, is No.
In law, if a police constable doesn't "reasonably suspect" you have alcohol in your body, then he isn't entitled to require you to take a preliminary breath-test and, accordingly, your refusal would be lawful and you'd have a good defence when prosecuted for refusing.
That's the theory.
Now ask yourself what the chances are, when the case gets to the local magistrates court, of the officer not saying, for example, that your 'demeanour' led him to suspect you had alcohol in your body. Or that he believed he could smell drink on your breath? Or that he thought your speech was slurred?
Bear in mind that he doesn't have to reasonably suspect that you have alcohol in your body over the prescribed limit - just some alcohol in your body.

Do the police even have to tell you what the "reasonable suspicion" is?
The policeman has to tell you he suspects you have alcohol in your body and that is why he is requiring you to take a breath-test. He does not have to tell you the reason(s) for his suspicion.
(He'd have to give his reasons if subsequently challenged in court, but see my comments above.)

In summary:
If required to take a breath-test at the scene, or to provide a specimen (breath, blood or urine) subsequently at a police station, you should do so - however unreasonable/unjustified you think it is.
If you refuse and are prosecuted, the likelihood of a court finding that you were legally entitled to refuse is extremely remote.


I'll be offline for the next two weeks.

Tudor Owen