View Full Version : Thomson pilot arrested at BHX

6th Mar 2013, 09:39
Reportedly suspended. Incident from 10th February but only just emerged.

6th Mar 2013, 09:44
Do we assume strong waters
involved, or he just insulted one of the security lackys ?

DX Wombat
6th Mar 2013, 10:13
Hopefully the latter, or maybe he suggested a more appropriate holiday destination for a prospective/former passenger.

6th Mar 2013, 10:15

6th Mar 2013, 10:15

6th Mar 2013, 10:30
Good news, so the "water bottle Nazis " got it wrong then.

6th Mar 2013, 11:07
Good news, so the "water bottle Nazis " got it wrong then. Not really. Not being charged and actually being innocent are two separate issues. Maybe he is not being charged because he was stopped before he started actively performing his duties, which means he could claim in his defense plea that he might still have decided to report "unfit for duty" before actually endangering anyone/anything. The prosecution cannot prove otherwise as he was caught too soon. There was a case recently where there was no conviction exactly for this reason, although the pilot was really well above limit and had already boarded his plane.
This will not prevent an internal disciplinary action though.

6th Mar 2013, 11:45
This will not prevent an internal disciplinary action though

Before you get jumped on I'm assuming you are meaning the case you quoted as opposed to the Thomson Pilot.

6th Mar 2013, 12:13
I actually meant both. While charges of "endangering air safety" might not stick in a court of law, just being over the limit while on duty/in full company uniform could be reason for disciplinary action and possible dismissal. You know, breach of trust, damaging the company image etc. etc.
Different standards apply to different contexts and successful criminal prosecution is, in general, not a prerequisite to internal actions.

PS. I just noticed that he had already been subjected to disciplinary action, namely suspension from active duty. QED :ok:

6th Mar 2013, 13:04
I actually meant both. While charges of "endangering air safety" might not stick in a court of law, just being over the limit while on duty/in full company uniform could be reason for disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

Who has said he was over the limit?

Or, possibly, the reason for suspension from active duty was because of the police investigation. If thats now closed then the person in question might be able to get back to work.

Just because they are suspended from active duty doesn't mean they have done anything wrong. QED. :ok:

(Just playing devils advocate and putting a counter balance to your argument.)

6th Mar 2013, 13:33
Who has said he was over the limit? I presume the officers who tested him and then proceeded with the arrest? Or are you saying they arrested him just because they didn't like the way he looked at them.
What I was pointing out is merely that his not being charged does not automatically mean that he was not drunk (i.e. "The water-bottle nazis got it wrong"), just that he had not committed a criminal offense he could be successfully charged with. Or is being drunk while merely wearing a pilot's uniform a criminal matter now? ;)
As for suspension from duty (presumably with no pay?) not being of a disciplinary nature in itself, if that's your thing than good for you but it would certainly piss me off to no end (especially the no pay part). :}

Just because they are suspended from active duty doesn't mean they have done anything wrong. QED.

Just as charges not being pressed does not imply he has done nothing wrong, just that he won't be prosecuted for it in a court of law. :ok:

6th Mar 2013, 14:05

When in a hole the best course of action is to stop digging. Pilots are never suspended without pay in Thomson Airways. Suspension is a normal practice whilst an inicident of any type is investigated. It is in no way an indication of guilt.

I seem to recall a foreign pilot being arrested in Manchester several years ago for being drunk. He was ritually humiliated by the media and by posters such as yourself on here. I think that he had upset someone in the hotel who called in to say he had been drinking and he was arrested. In the end, after some time and with nothing in the way of apology from the media of the malicious posters on here it emerged he had not been drinking at all.

Why don't we just assume that this case is similar until shown to be otherwise?

6th Mar 2013, 14:41
In a democracy, a person is innocent until found guilty. Might be different in Bongabongaland.

6th Mar 2013, 15:30
Love the evolution of some aussie's.

Can/does a field breathalyser detect the low amount needed for the requirements of aviation. The traffic light system detects either no alcohol (green), that there is alcohol (amber), or to much alcohol (red).

Or do the police just arrest and go to the evidential breathalyser?

6th Mar 2013, 15:55
What john_smith said!

Lets not shoot first and ask questions later. The pilot, according to the law, has done nothing wrong. If he had, he would be charged with something. Thats the way it works.

Oh, and I'm not a "******* Pommy." I'm not even a normal "Pommy" because I'm not a "Pommy" at all. (I'm assuming by "Pommy" you mean someone from the United Kingdom) :rolleyes:

6th Mar 2013, 18:04

I very much doubt that the police will have anything other than the normal issue breathalysers.

It may be that he blew amber and while as a traffic offence that would be a word of warning it could be that the officers knew the aviation limits and had enough to warrant a further test back at the station.

If what I've seen on TV is anything to go by if he blew under the limits on the station machine I would have thought he would have been released there and then. Given that this went further there must be something else we don't know about.

6th Mar 2013, 19:18
I do wander, was it the water bottle nazis or the blunt knife of the whistle blower.

Mr A Tis
6th Mar 2013, 19:47
Pretty pointless thread when we have zero facts to pontificate on.

Rail Engineer
6th Mar 2013, 21:31
Under the Aviation section of the 2003 Railways and Transport Safety Act, a police officer may arrest a person he believes to be under the influence of drink or drugs. Subsequently a specimen can be required to confirm whether or not this is the case.

I can only imagine that there is no access to a special graduated unit, so therefore the person would have to be arrested in order to be tested at the Police Station as the normal road traffic one would not indicate the level accurately ?

In the case of Railway staff, the BT Police will breathalyse on site using an approved unit which will indicate whether or not the person exceeds the legal limit or they may wait for the independent testing agent to undertake the test which gives an immediate result.

If they do then they are arrested and further specimens taken at the Police Station if the Police intend to take action. Not all cases of staff being under the influence will result in a Police Prosecution.

6th Mar 2013, 21:49
Actually modern 'preliminary breath test' machines are just as accurate as the station intoxyliser machines but there are other legal requirements of the intoxyliser machines that make them 'evidential' machines rather than 'preliminary'

6th Mar 2013, 22:26
At the time the Act became law the CAA issued guidance that suggested that all breathalysers issued to UK police had been tested and shown to be capable of measuring the lower level with sufficient accuracy for preliminary tests. The same guidance also said that the station evidence would normally be blood or urine although the Act does allow for breath. That may have changed since 2003 when the guidance was issued.

There are two different offences in the Act, being unfit for duty and exceeding the prescribed limit. The first is quite difficult to prove so the second is the one usually used. It is quite possible to be over the prescribed limit and committing an offence but be neither noticeably drunk or unfit for duty.

The offence is committing an Aviation Function or an activity that is ancillary to an aviation function whilst over the prescribed limit. What is an ancillary function is not totally clear but the guidance from the CAA was that it would include pre-flight briefing and post flight filing of reports in connection with the flight.

blue up
7th Mar 2013, 08:55
The "ancillary to an aviation function" bit seems a bit open to interpretation, or is it just me?

I did print up a notice a few years ago for some 757/767 refresher groundschool classes stating that a mandatory breath test was to be performed at 09:30 since the Refco was a part of pilot certification. 2 people were keen to have a quiet word before the day started. Best wind-up I've ever managed.

flying for fun
12th Mar 2013, 23:42
Hmmmm. I'm not so sure.

I recall walking (exiting) through the staff channel at BHX with a keen FO, and being asked for our passes by a Bobby with no Airport ID. My mate asked "what's this all about"? & was threatened by the afore mentioned Bobby. Someone had entered the Security Perimiter and set alight to a Police helecopter. "Can't be too sure, Sir". Why go outside in the cold when crews with valid ID's might be an easy target?

13th Mar 2013, 00:07
Look at it from a Police point of view.

Maybe there are officers with IDs airside also looking for the offender but that this officer has been placed to check anyone who hasnt obviously got a pass - maybe because its inside a jacket or its turned around by accident or, crucially, that they dont have one.

Also, think how easy it would be to get a generic Pilot outfit. And think how easy it would be for someone dressed like a pilot with a hi-vis to just walk around the ramp without being stopped.

Because you can guarentee that if someone is going to go to the lengths to enter the CP of BHX to attack the Copper Chopper then they will have taken measures to not get caught going out to, or coming back from the aircraft - you dont just breach a CP fence and attack a helicopter as a crime of opportunity done on the spur of the moment.

13th Mar 2013, 12:03
Sections 92 - 94 of the Rail & Transport Safety Act 2003 cover aviation functions and are pretty much all encompassing.

Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/20/part/5/crossheading/offences)

There isn't a lot you can do related to any aviation work which does not consitute an offence.

Some hand-held breathalysers are now calibrated such that, on start up, it asks whether the 'subject' is involved in aviation activities and if 'Yes' is selected it defaults to the far lower maximum alcohol limits prescribed for aviation activities.

Each and every individual is different and having administered stacks of breath tests in a previous life, I can assure you that the 1 1/2 pint rule-of-thumb relied on as sacrosanct by some is in fact complete :mad: - I have known people fail a breathalyser after 1/2 pint or one whisky and another pass (the evidential test) after 5 pints plus two glasses of wine. Nevertheless, the majority of persons would be hard pressed to pass an aviation prescribed breath limit of 9 mg/100 ml (compared to 35mg/100ml for driving) after even a small amount of alcohol.

I was stopped by the police on my way FROM work (August 2007) and they still applied the "Aviation = YES" option. Whilst I am sure that no Court would have convicted had I failed the aviation limits but passed the driving limits on my way home after duty had finished, the traffic cop concerned was 100% adamant that the aviation limits still applied. I had not drunk anything so there was no point making anything of it.

What is interesting in S94 are the activities and ancillary activities which would constitute an offence if over the limit. Seems to be a wide net! :ooh:

14th Mar 2013, 15:16
Trouble is a question of privilege and envy. At my local airport, there is a grudging...'off somewhere nice are we sir....' [= I hate you] from the brown and blue army, who,alas realise that in their lives, this is all there is. They wear hate and envy on their arms like a black armband of death. A p**s poor service compared to the americans who seem to be able to address you correctly and offer some offer of respect...but as long as you offer it to them.
I hear that journalists from April 6th onwards will be required to sit exams in the UK towards licenciate membership of the Royal College of Truthful and Polite Journalists. There will be annual renewals of this privilege along with clearance to report the accurate thruth for a further 6 months. Wonderful stuff.

A and C
14th Mar 2013, 15:30
You are spot on, it is an envy thing with security, if I go through the security checks as a passenger giving no clue that I am in the business I get no real problem fron security, in uniform it is a whole different and unpleasant ball game.

2Close A bit disturbing about the policeman who wanted to apply the aviation acohol limit to you after you had finished work and on your way home, like you I don't think that this would have got past the CPS.

14th Mar 2013, 20:25
A bit disturbing about the policeman who wanted to apply the aviation acohol limit to you after you had finished work and on your way home, like you I don't think that this would have got past the CPS.

Interesting. The prosecution would obviously say that if you were over the limit at that time, then you would have been so at work. Not a problem if you can prove you've had a nip after work but ....

14th Mar 2013, 21:43
It's not illegal to have a beer after work and then drive home so :mad:

15th Mar 2013, 05:25
Only had positive experiences from police in an aviation sitch, very helpful ejecting dodgy ne'r do wells. As to security screening, NCL and Man make it painful because they haven't worked out you can be professional without being overly officious. Went through LHR this week and they were all positive, polite and just got on with their jobs. On the other side of the coin I have seen a fair few crews fail to recognise that security have a job to do and act like t**ts so I can understand why we take some flak in the other direction and guys get sussed for being under the influence.

20th Mar 2013, 09:10
Having been in civ av for 25 years, RAF prior, and BMIs security manager for some years I was always struck by how different security standards and sensible behaviour were at some airports and how some individuals felt empowered by their periferal connection with security to oppress other workers.

I recall a security person at Teeside repeatedly saying to crew "here's another one for the full body masage" prior to a very intrusive search and Manchester security staff trying hard to impress me with their power but not their effeciency. Other airports seemed to welcome their function to support safe flight by contributing to the overall effort.

It was noticeable that some smaller airports performed vastly better than the majors at detecting and dealing with problems and so were more effective but managed to avoid aggression. Securityt at Wick for instance was excellent, nothing got past them but they were always pleasant about it. I will never forget one of the baggage security ladies asking my wife if it was OK to search in my boxers, the reply that there was a big supprise waiting caused a smile all round

Their was usually a large difference between the UK and foreign airports attitude to crew. In Germany I was never frisked, they checked my badge and waved me through which I thought was a bit lax but they were superb at preventing drunks or troublesome pax from boarding. Often the first we heard about a problem was when the load sheet needed to be changed because " we rejected a passenger at the gate"

I was never sure how much the split between the DFT and the CAA over security matters reduced effectiveness

25th Mar 2013, 20:07
The brethalyser is for screening and the suspect has to be arrested if they fail, for a trip to the custody suite where the evidential test is done- you get to choose breath or blood. This will state the actual amount of alcohol and therefore is the evidence. If the officer has grounds to believe someone is drunk (alcohol on breath etc.), they can arrest on suspicion.
At the end of the day, it seems they had grounds to arrest but not to prosecute.
Plus- if you are sober, you won't have a problem.

26th Mar 2013, 06:57
I realize that this is not an option with reference to breathalyzer tests with Pilots (I have had a couple myself) but as far as driving is concerned there is a blood test option in many states in the US.

In fact, in Florida the advice given to motorists concerned they may be over the limit when stopped by the Police is 'if you don't know, don't blow'

As mentioned, it is your option to have a blood test, if you are borderline close to the limit by the time they get you to a hospital or clinic and find someone to administer a blood test you may very well be legal.

Not endorsing drunk driving at, just thought I would point this out. Is this an option for a motorist in the UK ?

26th Mar 2013, 13:40
No unless there are medical grounds. Refusing the breath test at the police station would be classed as an offence in its self and would lead to a ban anyway probably more severe just for good luck.

26th Mar 2013, 13:57
as a follow on:

Failing to provide a specimen for analysis (http://www.drinkdrivinglaw.co.uk/offences/failing_to_provide_a_specimen_for_analysis.htm)

31st Mar 2013, 07:57
Well, I read that and it doesn't specify you have to submit to a breathalyzer test, just to submit to a test of some kind.

Just that you have to supply breath, blood or urine.

The implication is there is a choice.

31st Mar 2013, 12:21
Beware of forming opinion on the law from internet guides rather than the actual legislation. In the UK the legislation is the Road Traffic Act 1998 with amendments contained within the Railways and Transport Safety 2003. The legislation has two sections which cover the requirement to submit to testing.

The first is the requirement to co-operate with any one or more preliminary tests administered to the person by a constable and a person commits an offence if without reasonable excuse he fails to co-operate with a preliminary test.

The second concerns specimens where a constable may require the person to provide two specimens of breath for analysis by means of a device of a type approved by the Secretary of State, or to provide a specimen of blood or urine for a laboratory test. There is a choice but it is the constable's choice although there are other sections which place limitations on that choice. A person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to provide a specimen when required to do so is guilty of an offence as long as the constable warns them that a failure to provide it may render them liable to prosecution when they make the request.