View Full Version : America West crew arrested @ MIA (Update - Sentences)

1st Jul 2002, 21:11
Just heard about America West CAPT and FO arrested in MIA today. News conference at 5PM.

1st Jul 2002, 21:22
The local Channel 10 news reported that the B737 was stopped on the ramp by police cars after pushback. Police boarded the aircraft and, after both pilots failed a Breathalyzer test, were arrested.

Apparently, the security screeners and other ground staff noticed the smell of alcohol on their breath.

Gin Slinger
1st Jul 2002, 21:53
Sounds like a messy scandel in the making, if reports are correct.

1st Jul 2002, 22:07
NOT good at ALL...:( :(

1st Jul 2002, 22:21
Confirmed by ABC News and channel 10 in Miami.. check their web site

1st Jul 2002, 22:25

"Observers told ABCNEWS affiliate WPLG in Miami that the tug or harness was still attached to the plane as it was being maneuvered into position for takeoff."


Gin Slinger
1st Jul 2002, 22:52
Eboy - if it's been moved off the stand, then it is ultimately being maneuvered for take off.

Semantics aside, it's bad news for everyone.

Lu Zuckerman
1st Jul 2002, 23:40
Florida has a law that prohibits pilots from flying aircraft while under the influence of alcohol and as a result the pilots went to jail in Florida. It doesn’t always work that way in other states. Two pilots were suspected to be under the influence when they left a major Minnesota airport. When they arrived at their destination (a state that had a law similar to that in Florida) they were arrested. In this case the authorities were aware of the pilots condition but they allowed them to fly to their destination fully aware of their possible impairment. So much for passenger safety.


1st Jul 2002, 23:41
If the ground personnel smelled alcohol on the pilots, how were they (pilots) able to get to the plane in the first place? If they really were intoxicated, the push-back's uncomfortably close to actually being airborne.:(

2nd Jul 2002, 00:24
The Northwest jokes are over. Let the America West jokes come forth.

2nd Jul 2002, 00:38
Capt & FO tried to pass thru "security" with cups of coffee. This is a no-no. Argument (up close) with Security personnel. The crew left their cups outside of security and were passed thru. Security Supervisor had smelled "alcohol breath" during "discussion" about coffee cups. This Supervisor called Airport Police who had the plane returned from "off" gate to the gate. Breathalyzer test showed Capt breath at 0.91 % and the FO breath at 0.84 %. Standard in Florida is 0.80 % for drunkeness. Crew were then arrested.

Northwest jokes? Nope - we can have the Air "Worst" jokes instead. This is what Air West is called by professional passengers here in the USA. Well, we do call Northwest by the "name" of NorthWORST as well. So - we pax/slf are very even-handed, yes?

Nothing funny though about 0.91% alcohol reading!! :mad:

Transition Layer
2nd Jul 2002, 01:26
From the ABC News article -
Cloyd tested positive for a blood-alcohol content level of .091, while Hughes registered a .084, police said. The Federal Aviation Administration sets the legal limit for pilots at .04.

Is this true? In Australia we have the 8 hour bottle to throttle like most other countries, but there is also the proviso that you won't be under the influence of alchohol at all whilst flying, i.e. a BAC of 0.00.


ernest t bass
2nd Jul 2002, 01:31
Yep, that's true. The FAA limit for random alcohol testing (which is done by Breathalyzer) is .04.

2nd Jul 2002, 02:35
Very damaging to the profession and VERY VERY damaging to America West Airlines, who is already facing bankruptsy. Have a hard time believing two professional pilots could have such reckless disregard.

Let the investigation show what the truth is. Breathalizer test is pretty damning, though, assuming it's accurate.

2nd Jul 2002, 04:15
I was wondering where the flight attendants were in all this.

Dale Harris
2nd Jul 2002, 04:25
BIK, you are correct I believe. There is no limit prescribed by our legislation. There is also no power to breath test that I have been able to find either. Which is kind of stupid. As I'm sure most are aware, the 8 hour limit from bottle to throttle COULD result in a pilot still being way over the Road Safety Act interpretation, but being considered acceptable to fly. I guess it's a case of if you don't f#ck up, then no problem...............Not that I agree with that....... In Victoria at least, if you are involved in an accident, and you are injured and require ambulance or hospital treatment, then a blood test would be taken. That may lead to questions of course.........

2nd Jul 2002, 04:38
Good point Bubbette.... and what about the Handling agent. It blows my mind, how a professional pilot would do something like this. Very damaging to our proffession.
Once you know, you have to wear that uniform within the next 24 hours or so.....no alcohol whatsoever, period. Well, for the benefit of the doubt, let's wait until the official test is out.

2nd Jul 2002, 04:39
The old DO of America West was a friend of mine when he was with the CIA. Really nice guy. I wonder what his thoughts would be.... but I think he is still in prison for smuggling drugs from Mexico. ives new meaning to "lead by example"

2nd Jul 2002, 06:08
Just a thought - exactly how reliable are breathalyzer tests vv a full-on blood test? Would a strong Listerine gargle produce a false positive?

2nd Jul 2002, 07:30
Not sure what these BAC levels equate to as far as how many units of alcohol/beers drunk, sounds like these guys do deserve whatever they get though!
I would have thought though, that the Florida levels could be achieved just by taking the wrong cold medicine :eek:

2nd Jul 2002, 07:50

Yes things like that can provide a false positive - as can many other foods and freshners. As far as I know you're entitled to wait a certain amount of time, and be retested. I think on the roads downunder, you get tested when you're pulled over, can wait 5 or 10 minutes (or something) and have another test, and then you go to the station for a final test. I think it's the final test that gets used in court, but bear in mind I haven't had any of this as a real experience!

It's a shame to see professionals abuse trust like this, but unfortunately there are many types of people who fly. Is 'pulling over' a 737 taking the whole event to an extreme though? I would have thought someone could have tried to prevent them from putting themselves in that position... Then again, we don't have all the facts!


2nd Jul 2002, 08:15
Didnt BA try this a few years ago ex LHR and gave up embarrassingly after catching a few in the morning.
If this is a new trend , how many flights would be grounded in a day??

2nd Jul 2002, 14:03
AFAIK, the final test, which is used in court, is a BAC test taken directly from a blood sample. This level is then extrapolated back to the time of arrest, assuming a standard rate of metabolism. So, while you can claim that you recently took cold medicine or gargled with listerine or even had a shot of brandy, the truth will out in the end.

To give you an example of just how drunk BAC levels this high make you, check out this web site:

Specific Effects Related to BAC (http://www.indiana.edu/~adic/effects.html)

This table puts these pilots very firmly in the "Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Judgement and self- control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired" category and bordering on the "Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgement. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle at this level of intoxication"

Obviously parameters vary between different people, but the BAC registered equates to about 3 or 4 shots drunk in the space of less than an hour immediately prior to the test.

2nd Jul 2002, 15:50
It was an A-319, not a 737.

And I agree re: where were the F/A's during this, especially the lead during the briefing.

I would think that after the cockpit was
'busted" that the cabin would have been also...assuming they had the same layover and sometimes crews do "dine" together...

Leadership by example..."let's all follow the skipper's lead!!!".

2nd Jul 2002, 18:09
Who is the one that wanted a gun now?

It only takes one to ruin it for the rest and with an issue as explosive as firearms, stuff like this sets the talks back months.

I think I even mentioned this very thing. Understand I am not applying this as a widespreed issue and in no way am I implying anything towards pilots in general. (I also stated this same issues comes up with LEO, Military personal, etc...) So before the floodgates open, remember this issues requires the cooperation of all, and not the few who enjoy the sport of target shooting or are card carrying members of the NRA. (I carry one too, as well as a Life Member of VFW, to name a few)

Remember it is good to be hard, hard to be smart.

Sniper's Hide (

2nd Jul 2002, 22:44
Who is the one that wanted a gun now?

It only takes one to ruin it for the rest and with an issue as explosive as firearms, stuff like this sets the talks back months.

Wrong thread................

2nd Jul 2002, 23:11
A lot of normal intake includes a little bid of alcohol, orange juice, coca-cola - anything with sugar will ferment to produce alcohol.

That one or two percent of us who are bastards is always screwing things up for those of us who just want to play things fairly straight and enjoy our lives and jobs. Sexual harrassment, racial complaints, people going postal, are developed, and the less obvious like the cockpit gun debate get done tremendous damage by these cads.

2nd Jul 2002, 23:36
That one or two percent of us who are bastards is always screwing things up for those of us who just want to play things fairly straight and enjoy our lives and jobs. Sexual harrassment, racial complaints, people going postal, are developed, and the less obvious like the cockpit gun debate get done tremendous damage by these cads.


Reel Marine
3rd Jul 2002, 02:20
Question of the Week

What if they adheared to the 8 hour bottle to throttle rule or even the more restrictive 12 hour america west bottle to throttle rule. In the eyes of the law does that make them guilty? Are breathalizers now gonna be part of the before start checklist?
What do you guys think?

3rd Jul 2002, 02:33
Portable breath analyzer sensors will detect molecules from a range of hydrocarbons without distinguishing - so don't gargle JP4.

Athletes, diabetics and weight-losers may have a lot of Ketones in their breath, which can make a dramatically high false reading.

Blood tests are more accurate, but lab people are not always up to par. If you ever are in a situation where you must involuntarily give a sample, politely demand that they run two blood samples, taken at the same time, in two different labs. Might save your bacon if you are not up to serious mischief.

BA is metabolically really a measure of the ratio of alcohol to water in the body. If you are dehydrated, that increases chances of a bad test (as well as a mal di testa). To rescue onesself from an error of judgement, drink water - and pass it - like a pump. Heavy breathing - lots of it - can lose quite a bit through the lungs.

(This info is 8-9 tenths reliable. Learned it as an investor in a BA instruments company a few years back.)

In vino veritas - unfortunately. Fly safe.

3rd Jul 2002, 02:37
Anyway you look at this incident, it is dumb and stupid. It gives us all a black eye.

3rd Jul 2002, 03:37
Yup, a bad thing indeed.

It is big on the TV news stations here in the colonies.
The talk heads are all yakking about it.
Much more so than the mid-air collision over Germany.

Now all the security folks and others are going to want to smell our breath.
And all the jokes from the pax: Good morning cap, are ya sober yet, or should we come back later, ha ha...


Great, thanks to the 2 America West guys. Damn amateurs.

3rd Jul 2002, 04:09
As Jinx300 and TowerDog well know, and have commented upon, this story is "front page" news not only on all the news stations but also gets front page space on all of the Internet newspaper sites.

This is giving the American public a VERY FALSE image of the cockpit crews professionalism IMHO!! :mad:

edit - in case you can't tell, I SUPPORT the ATPL profession in this instance!!

3rd Jul 2002, 15:57
Reel Marine,

In answer to your question: Yes, even if pilots are in compliance with the FAA 8-hour (or company required 12-hour) rule, they can still be guilty if their alcohol level is high and/or they are under any sort of alcohol influence.

Here is an extract of FAR 91.17 (from http://www.faa.gov):

Sec. 91.17

Alcohol or drugs.

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft--
(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
(2) While under the influence of alcohol;
(3) While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety; or
(4) While having .04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood.

Therefore, even though someone might have technically complied with (1), they could possibly still be in violation of (2) or (4) if they had a skinful prior to that 8-hour (or 12-hour) cutoff. This is where good sense and judgment are required.

As an important side note, I feel very confident in asserting that over 99.999% of the time, airline pilots diligently exercise this good sense and judgment. We fully respect our position, our responsibilities, and the value of the lives we transport.

It is a shame about the (less than) .001% lapses in judgment. As Jinx300 and AA SLF state, an event like this incorrectly gives us all a black eye, and presents an extremely false image of our profession.

(edited for clarification)

3rd Jul 2002, 16:22

Does the breathalyzer detect hydrocarbons?

Alcohols aren't hydrocarbons as far as I know.

3rd Jul 2002, 16:38

You are correct.

"Hydrocarbon: Any of a class of organic compounds composed only of carbon and hydrogen."

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is CH3CH2OH, which means that it is not a hydrocarbon. Arcniz probably meant to say "organic compounds".

3rd Jul 2002, 17:10
McD - I'm not sure if there is any further federal legislation that may
apply. I think that there is but I don't know where it is to be found. I
say that because FAR 91.17 doesn't address all the issues that the
Omnibus Testing Act was supposed to cover. That Act applies
to all common carriers. It was conceived as a response to a number
of deadly railroad and subway accidents during the 1980s in which
the operators tested positive for alcohol or controled substances.
I believe the only difference in its applicability to aviation is that a
4 hour rule was enacted for other modes of transportation. The stricter
8 hour rule for aviation was already in force prior to the Omnibus Act.
According to the legislation any common carrier operator is prohibited
from safety-sensitive functions with a BAC of 0.02. The level of 0.04
is the point at which criminal penalties apply (rather than just career and
licence penalties). I think 15 years prison and $250,000 fine are the maxes.

The NWA incident LZ refers to did not happen quite as described. In that
incident an FAA inspector who had been tipped off greeted the crew
before departure. The captain convinced him that they were ok on the
eight hour rule. That is why the flight was allowed to depart from Fargo - nothing
about differing state laws. All three members of the 727 flight crew tested over
the limit when they landed at MSP. I believe the captain was at 0.13. He was
sentenced to 16 months, the first and second officers to 12 months. It is
definitely possible to be ok on the 8 hour rule and still do time.

A bit off-topic but something that bugs me is that this particular captain's
problems have been used by two groups of people with axes to grind.
He never drank again. A couple of years after completing his sentence
he regained his license, was eventually reinstated (as a FO), made
skipper again, and retired at age 60 without any further blemishes. One finds
his situation referred to over and over again by those who want a repeal to
the Americans with Disabilities Act. In their version the captain claimed an
alcoholism disability and used the Act to gain reinstatement. It's not true
but you see it in essays so often that it has acquired the status of truth.

More recently he ran afoul of the indiscriminate Clinton-bashers. Among
the infamous last-minute pardons awarded by Clinton was was one to this
retired captain. If anybody wants to argue that he should not have received
a second chance from NWA then that is something that can be reasonably
discussed from both sides. But he was already given a second chance, he didn't
blow it, he retired from the profession without a second incident, so who would
begrudge him a pardon after that? Answer: lots of editorialists.

3rd Jul 2002, 18:00
Top 5 tips for those who've overrefreshed themselves the night before.

1. Go sick. Failing which
2. Smile a lot, say very little.
3. Breathe in through the nose and out through a corner of the mouth, sideways, when dealing with all other humanoids
4. Stay as far back from people's noses as possible
5. Don't mix it up with security over a cuppa.


3rd Jul 2002, 19:59
FLASH and Covenant - Thank you for correcting my misstatement re 'hydrocarbons'. The O in ethanol definitely helps to give it that special zing.

My thoughts were distracted in trying to find a general way to describe the behavior of the widely used metal-oxide alcohol sensors (tin oxides being most common) which can have selective sensitivities to a wide variety of hydrocarbons, other organics, and some elemental substances under varying conditions. They DO work, but are somewhat analogous to using a wet finger as a wind direction / velocity sensor.

3rd Jul 2002, 20:50
Peterbuck - Earlier in this thread I listed a few ways that persons could more quickly clear their bodies of residual alcohol to avoid being unfairly accused of a violation when they were trying to do the right thing and aiming to strictly comply with alcohol-related rules and regs.

In my opinion, your posting carries a similar concept a step too far.

Other than step 1, which is the only legally appropriate out in your scenario, your suggestions seem to be directed at ways to cover up the external symptoms of actual intoxication.

This is a) really bad advice, and b) tends to amplify the erroneous impression encouraged by some in the press that pilots are inclined to engage in, tolerate or facilitate violations of the regs in regard to alcohol.

The aviation profession suffers greatly from comic-book stereotypes of hard-drinking 30's mail pilots and devil-may care wartime aviators drinking their courage.

From what I know - after roughly 40 years of command in aircraft - that is not the case. Commercial and civil pilots as a group are extremely conscious of the complex matrix of rules and regs surrounding aviation, and have little tolerance for individuals in the system who cannot or will not go along with the program.

Dan Winterland
3rd Jul 2002, 21:01
JARs have recently set the limit of BA at 20mg/100ml. The drink- drive limit in the UK is 80mg/100ml and in France, 50mg/100ml.

3rd Jul 2002, 21:08
What a pair of idiots, but at least they weren't drinking infront of the TV cameras.;)

Secret Agent Man 2
3rd Jul 2002, 22:07
As perhaps the only non-mormon Airline Captain who abstains, I find this situation a little hard to understand and very sad. I just don't understand......

...but also, as a pilot who once ran afoul of Management and had a lot of "fellow professionals" write me off before being reinstated without prejudice (thank you ALPA!) I wish nothing but the best for these two FELLOW PILOTS who are now in the loneliest place in the world.....

Well, aside from my little speech, I wanted to add that I saw a documentary abut driving under the influence a few months back and the perp recalled how he field-tested just barely over the limit and was arrested (but potentially within a margin of error for the unit which could be argued by any law student). On arriving at the lock-up, the officer afforded him an opportunity to "blow again" to see if it was any lower.

Surprise, it was higher! Remember, metabolism is still taking place and in most cases, when you are offered the opportunity to "re-test" you are digging a hole for yourself and strengtaning the case for the state. SO DON'T! This is a bad time to learn that the police are not your always pals!

One thing I haven't seen commented on is the probable cause for following up on the snitch-tip of an airport screener.....I wonder if this is a nasty little precedent to fear?

Elliot Moose
4th Jul 2002, 02:54
Today's news on the CBC said that the crew was unceremoniously SACKED.
They do of course have the option of appealing this via their unions. I suppose this should fall under the same thinking as the Capt who got sent packing for his first offence smoking in the cockpit. Shouldn't these boys get another chance just like so many said that the smoker should have?

4th Jul 2002, 04:34
Moose are you out of your mind ??

Equating having a smoke with being under the influence of alcohol. Words fail.

Alpha Leader
4th Jul 2002, 04:41
Paper Tiger:

Can you explain why violating a no-smoking ban should be treated any differently from violating no-drinking ban?

4th Jul 2002, 04:44
AL, do you fly aeroplanes? Or do you just comment on this forum?

Alpha Leader
4th Jul 2002, 05:13

Do YOU fly aeroplanes? Or do YOU just comment on this forum?

FYI: I have been asked the first question before in this forum and answered it. Check it out yourself. Happy, Pappy?

4th Jul 2002, 06:40
Let me refer back to a couple of seemingly contradictory posts from just
before the outbreak of insanity in this thread.

On arriving at the lock-up, the officer afforded him an opportunity
to "blow again" to see if it was any lower. Surprise, it was higher!

Not a huge surprise. What is more surprising is that even if it were
lower than the first reading it still could have hurt his

in most cases, when you are offered the opportunity to "re-test"
you are digging a hole for yourself and strengtaning the case for the

This contradicts what arcniz said, namely, "If you ever are in a
situation where you must involuntarily give a sample, politely demand
that they run two blood samples." In fact, each of the two strategies
is correct for the persons to which it is directed.

If you are under the limit, as arcniz assumes, then you want as many
tests as possible. If you are over the limit, as SAM 2 seems to suppose,
then you want as few tests as possible. Let me give an example. Its
conclusions have been reached using statistical information that was
typical of well-conducted BAC tests fifteen years ago. I don't know if
there have been any changes to the tests since then and if there have
been I do not have current data. Nevertheless, the statistical principles
behind the conclusions would remain valid regardless of any changes that
may have taken place. Suppose the limit BAC is 0.04 and you test at 0.046
on your first sample. The correct statistical decision is to accept the
hypothesis that your true BAC is under the limit. However, if you
are given two more tests and your two additional test results decrease
to 0.044 and 0.042 then the correct statistical decision is to reject
the hypothesis that your BAC is under the limit.

4th Jul 2002, 08:31
Well, this is becoming interesting.

bblank correctly argues that multiple bad results will set the hook deeper on each iteration. It appears that bb's premise is based on statistical grounds alone. Never having been strong at statistics or other forms of lying -(lame joke)- I am more inclined to apply logic:

In the hypothetical of a marginal field test and an equal or worse result at the station house, you have given away the possible argument that the field unit, being subject to handling, etc, was out of calibration and false. If, however, you insist at the station house on the TWO blood tests at different labs, then you may buy increased quality of information for either conviction or exoneration. If both blood tests turn out clearly on the wrong side, then your goose is cooked and you will just have to deal with it. However, if one or both blood tests contradict the breath test, or if they are dramatically inconsistent with each other, then there's some helpful room for arguing that the facts are not strong enough to send you to the pokey.

Of course, if you're really ploshed, you probably won't remember all this anyway. In that case, the best strategy is to be someone else.

4th Jul 2002, 09:06
Alpha Leader writes to Paper Tiger: Can you explain why violating a no-smoking ban should be treated any differently from violating no-drinking ban?

The obvious difference is that smoking (tobacco) is mildly stimulating but does not adversely affect judgement or coordination, whereas drinking alcohol does slow reflexes, increase impulsiveness, and alter judgement -- probably all bad things in the cockpit. They will both kill you, but - according to poet Ogden Nash : ' liquor is quicker'.

Social and cultural perspectives vary greatly about alcohol. I remember a time and place when folks would fly into a nice little grass strip to have a beer or two and watch other folks doing the same. Of course, we were flying piper cubs and the like, and there wasn't anything important to hit, except the cows in the middle of the strip.

As livers grow older and planes grow faster, alcohol has more effect. Add to that a lack of sleep, no food, dehydration, hypoxia, darkness and exhaustion, and you have a much worse result with demon rum than you would without.

That's it, plain and simple.

4th Jul 2002, 10:40
Great banter about alcy tests and organic compounds. All great stuff but totally irrelevant. Just don't get p**sed and then try to fly an airliner. However you look at it the crew were irreprehensibly unprofessional.

If you are really so desperate to have a drink that you cannot guarantee an alcohol reading below .04 (ie zero) when you go flying; get another job. It isn't big, it isn't clever and fortunately most people grow out of this type of behaviour in their teens.

In both the military and the civilian world I have seen well intentioned people trying to protect people that couldn't protect themselves from their own stupidity. I have seen a smoking hole containing the results of this type of misguided action alongside a fighter jet.

Guess what the public pays us to protect them not some irresponsible idiot that thinks that having one for the road is acceptable. They must have been aware that they had screwed up (like many have in the past) and then should have raised a hand admitted their mistake and gone sick. That might have inconvenienced a guy on standby or maybe cost the airline a few bucks but they would probably still have a job and would not have betrayed the faith put in them by their airline and their passengers.

Good riddance. End of rant, have a nice day y'all.


4th Jul 2002, 13:03
CNN interviews former Northwest pilot on drinking and flying . . .


Semaphore Sam
4th Jul 2002, 14:00
I generally don't watch movies (except Python's, which dates me), but, wasn't there an excellent movie about 30 years ago about a captain with this problem on his back (and on the back of fellow crewmembers)? Seemed to deal with it intelligently, as I remember.

4th Jul 2002, 14:46
Had Lyle on our jumpseat a few years back. His discussions were very interesting, but his recount of his time in Prison was chilling. He told us he had dedicated his free time to talking to groups. He also said he did not keep the money they paid him. He donates it, even though he was still trying to climb out of debt at the time. I asked him why he didn't keep any of it. He responded, "would you?"

4th Jul 2002, 16:05
Semaphore Sam

'The Pilot' starring Cliff Robertson (who is one). Some of the best airliner (DC-8s) air-to-airs I've seen.

I. M. Esperto
4th Jul 2002, 17:56
There, but for the Grace of God, .................

4th Jul 2002, 19:02
arcniz, your restating of my statistical inferences were by-and-large on
the mark but could use some fine-tuning in spots and even a correction in
one place.

All tests, even those that are correctly calibrated, are subject to
"variance." Statistics is the branch of mathematics that concerns drawing
inferences in the face of variance. A BAC test value X is a Gaussian random
variable whose mean is the subject's true but unknown BAC. The
variance of X is much smaller than you would expect - or, more accurately,
than I expected - but still nonzero. Taking more than one test, say N samples
X1, X2, ... , XN, decreases variance. If Xbar denotes the average
(X1 + X2 + ... + XN)/N then the variance of Xbar is 1/N'th the variance
of X. Therefore by increasing the sample size more control over variance
is obtained. The Law of Large Numbers, a theorem in probability theory,
shows that as N tends to infinity Xbar tends to true BAC with probability 1.

The one point with which I would disagree with arcniz is the statement
"If both blood tests turn out clearly on the wrong side, then your goose is
cooked. Maybe yes, maybe no. Nobody should find themselves in such a
position but if it happens, then I would suggest instructing your lawyer
to hire a competent statistician. (I regret to say that expert statistical
opinion can be obtained much more economically than either medical
opinion or legal counsel.) For example, if your two tests were 0.046 and
0.042 and if the accuracy of the tests did not improve much in the last
fifteen years, then I doubt if I would have trouble convincing a jury that
the hypothesis "true BAC greater than 0.04" could not be accepted with
the certainty needed for a criminal conviction. Well, juries can be tricky
but the line of reasoning that I would use has been accepted by appellate

Incidentally, some jurisdictions attempted to avoid the variance issue
with laws that read "BAC tests at 0.10 or above" instead of "have
a BAC at 0.10 or above." I'm refering to motor vehicle laws of course
and I'm not sure whether those legislative dodges worked.

PaperTiger, You are right about the name but when I saw the movie on
Canadian TV long ago I think it went under the title "Danger in the Skies."

I. M. Esperto
4th Jul 2002, 19:16
I'm not a smoker, except for an odd cigar, but this anti-smoking hysteria bothers me more than the smoke does.


4th Jul 2002, 19:22
The Captain (can't remember name, but it is the older pilot) has had TWO PRIOR instances of alcohol related "discussions with police in his hometown. Both of these instances/events were at his home. One involved an "assault" on his wife, the other involved his neighbors in the apartment below his in shich he felt they were making too much noise and he "confronted" those neighbors who called the Police in that instance.

So - there is an "alcohol" related background with this particular pilot (the older one).

4th Jul 2002, 19:23
Alpha Leader,
Promise me you'll stay in China.

This snitching has got to stop.I dont condone what these two pilots did and they'll pay big time.If a report hadnt been made by the security personnel,it was really up to the lead FA to diffuse the situation,as both pilots were equally intoxicated.The accepted rule is to offer an escape clause to the offender(s) along the lines of "I am taking my crew back to the terminal.I will report both of you as no-shows so I suggest you both make yourself scarce.Next time I wont hesitate in making a report.Good day Captain."
Instead we live in a world where everybody is busy filing reports on everybody else.FA's on flt deck..ramp rats on flt deck..security personnel(if thats the right word for some of these guys) on flt deck...and flt deck too..on each other(worst case of all).If you have a problem,work the problem face to face like a man.
This kind of bs never used to happen..I never had to file a report on anybody in 35 years of flying.

4th Jul 2002, 19:46

Neither have I...these things CAN be worked out face-to-face without reports with just a little forethought...usually missing these days, unfortunately.

Joyce Tick
4th Jul 2002, 19:56
At least this could never happen at Big Airways....

Constable Clipcock
4th Jul 2002, 23:17
The Pilot was an excellent film, bar none.

I recall Cliff Robertson's character going back to crop-spraying in the end of the movie.

Elliot Moose
4th Jul 2002, 23:40
I obviously see a big difference between having a ciggie on the flight deck and showing up plowed. For the record, I flew a fuel tanker for over a year with a captain whom I sincerely respect, and who also managed to smoke two in a 36min leg. I had no problem with it, and there was just the two of us (and 9200L of unleaded). I was more interested in making a statement on the whole mentality that defends a clear violation (don't fire him for the first offence, and hang the FA for reporting him) on one hand and advocates rectal violation as a punishment for the other.
To me, if you cross the line and decide to take the chance, you must face the consequences. My Capt could have been fired for smoking (probably could have blown us sky high too) but he asked first, and then trusted me to shut up about it. Yes I would have been a royal @ss to report him after saying "go ahead" but that is the chance he took.
Many suggest that the crew should have been kindly nudged into taking a sick day after showing up wasted. That would have been nice for sure. However, an awful lot of people would see the very act of showing up as being intent enough to commit reckless endangerment of life. A lot of those people would be the old blue haired Jesus freak types that call themselves "the moral majority" down in the South. They would suggest jail terms and some serious remedial Bible schoolin' as punishment for those fine young citizens even touching a bottle of Lucifer's brew in the first place. Look at life from their (sanitized and puritan) way of thinking--even if you don't like it. To many the choice is clear--fry those guys. Or maybe the rent-a-cop watched somebody get squished by a pickup truck full of drunk rednecks and had a nasty flashback, who knows?
I would have given them the nudge towards a little extra rest myself, but because they didn't breathe on me before somebody else, they are going to have to pay for their actions.

5th Jul 2002, 00:12
Constable... My guess is your post is more based on personal frustration than on the actual affair with the two AW-pilots.

I most sincerely hope, granted they indeed were under influence, they will be convicted, but I don't wish anyone to be (and I quote) <<getting @ss-slammed and throat-f*cked by every "Crip", "Blood", "Bandito" and and "La Eme" member drug-dealer/outlaw/scumbag type the Florida prison system has to offer as potential cell-mate material>> against their own will.

What strikes me in this case, is that most alcohol-prevention-programs usually are based on 1 of the two being under influence; both pilots at the same time is surprising to me and to my best knowledge, unheard of before.

This affair is not only damaging for America West, it damages all of us. I hope we won't get the same breathalizer-madness as we have security-madness now as pilots, where we have to give of our nailclipper to get it shredded, but remain with our two hands, which both are very able of crashing an airplane. I don't like to be treated as under criminal investigation just for going to work.

BTW wouldn't a breathalizer not be a good idea in the OR in an hospital? In an ATC-unit? etc.


5th Jul 2002, 00:48
If I were asked to take a roadside test I understand that they fit a totally clean mouthpiece, BUT, what if the previous "Blower" was way over the limit, would this not leave a deposit on the sensors inside that would contaminate my breath sample?:(

5th Jul 2002, 00:56
Joyce Tick,

And the point of your post was??


5th Jul 2002, 01:11
I think it was irony..

Ignition Override
5th Jul 2002, 01:21
Tower Dog: Many US pilots might remember this from several years ago. While boarding a jet at Detroit, MI, a lady either suspected alcohol consumption by smelling something on the Captain's breath, or suspected such by his appearance or even possibly bloodshot eyes-possibly a combination of these. She claimed to have had experience in either alcohol treatment or a related job. This "expert" insisted in a clear voice that the Captain was 'under the influence' in front of other passengers, either at the gate, on the jetway or on the plane.

The lady was so adament that the pilot decided to find airport personnel who were qualified to give him a breathalyser or blood test. This only caused a one or two-hour departure delay. Her name and her Detroit suburb were immediately published in the Detroit "Free Press" newspaper.

Yesterday the other pilot told me that if a passenger walks by us on the plane or during boarding and makes a wise crack about drinking, that he will offer to prove his innocence, which would probably result in a serious delay. I won't hesitate to respond in the same way.

Maybe this is why no passengers brought up the subject to us in the last two days. Such comments often come from nervous fliers. Two well-known tv comedians (Jay Leno is reportedly one) who have been known to beat this topic to death are known to be very nervous fliers.

"Go ahead, make my day".

Alpha Leader
5th Jul 2002, 01:58

Good argument about no-smoking vs no-drinking.

My point is/was exactly that now made by Elliot Moose.


I'll be delighted to come visiting one day:D

5th Jul 2002, 08:41
Blue Eagle - The portable breath analyzer technology I loosely described earlier - using tin-oxide sensor technology - actually has the sensor running at a fairly high temperature when in use. The heat has the effect of reversing - at a known rate - the chemical combination of sensed molecules which may have accumulated on the sensor surface... those organic molecules are being continuously boiled off, in effect. So the sensors cleanse themselves after a period of operation in neutral air.

Any reasonably designed instrument will start by 'normalizing' the sensor to a baseline value before the new sample gasses are introduced. This should, in principle, erase the effects of any and all prior tests, so each new test should be fair, no matter how flammable the previous customer may have been..

Notwithstanding that, portable instruments of any sort are much more likely to be out of calibration due to handling damage, temperature extremes when stored in unshaded vehicles, etcetera. Sensors can also be 'poisoned' - like catalytic converters on cars - by exposure to certain substances which might be encountered in the highway environment.

If one's career is on the line, it is likely worth the effort to note the id or serial number of the testing instrument at the time of test, and then have the authorities dig up the maintenance and calibration history. Paying for recalibration or calibration test by an independent lab might be a good investment also. With highest quality devices, 5 or ten percent might be out of calibration at any point in time. With cheaper, older ones, perhaps as much as 50 percent of them could be.

My impression is that most authorities appreciate these fallibilities. They use the instruments as a means to quantify violations by clearly over the limit 'clients', but might well be reluctant to fight over the small points of a test that reports a value right at the lower statutory limit. With some tact and alertness to detail, this result might be accomplished even at roadside.

I hope I never personally have to put this theory to the test.

Orca strait
6th Jul 2002, 08:10
Good argument about no-smoking vs no-drinking.
Lost me on that one lads... If you want to fly a freighter full of av-gas bladders while puffing on your favourite fag - fill your boots - just do us all a favour and steer clear of the built up areas...:rolleyes:

6th Jul 2002, 10:03
Thanks for that, often wondered how they would get round the problem.:)

6th Jul 2002, 18:15
Elliott Moose: Sorry, NO second chances for these two idiots.
Would you want your kids/spouse/yourself on an aircraft they were flying?:mad:

bi focals
6th Jul 2002, 21:34
whatever happen'd to innocent until proven guilty?? don't believe
everything you hear via the media .Just remember it could be any one of us in the limelight next time.until such time as they are proven guilty they deserve our support or at least our silence!!!

Elliot Moose
6th Jul 2002, 23:10
I never said that I would ever LET these guys go flying while bombed! I just said that the first course of action I would take would be to make a strong "suggestion" that they take a 24hr sabbatical. If they insisted--I would be at the front of the line to go to a higher authority.
I've been forced into this situation before. As a supervisor, I saw a serious transgression taking place. I kindly suggested that the action be stopped as I felt it was seriously out of the area of "discussable issues" (not booze, but serious threat to flight safety and the company's O.C.). When I was told to go and fornicate myself for the third time, I said "Fine" and went to MY boss and told the story. I even offered to apologize if I was out of line in my judgement. The result was obvious. The flight was stopped. The offender took two weeks off and didn't speak to me for about a year, but in the end he calmed down and pulled in his horns.
Like I said before; it have been NICE if the rent-a-cop had made a friendly suggestion, but considering the fact that the Capt involved had given him a whole lot of grief over the coffee, and the possibility that he had problem with drinking and driving, I can certainly see why he just didn't bother. :rolleyes:

7th Jul 2002, 06:44
EM has a valid point IMHO (as in "back to the hotac guys, come back later) BUT...to have engaged in an argument with the "security screeners" was a BAD idea... and the story is now known by all.

7th Jul 2002, 20:44
bi focal:

Let's assume that a lot of information reported by media is either fabricated or exaggerated, such the argument over coffee, alcoholic breath smelt by the security guard, etc. There are, however, elements in this story that are beyond doubt.

1) The 2 pilots were arrested by police. They were shown in handcuffs on TV. No fabrication there. "Renta-cops" don't have arrest power.

2) The police would not have arrested them unless the pilots blew above a legally mandated limit on the breathlyzer test and the said test was administered by police.

That exactly such a sequence of event occurred at MIA is irrefutable. The 2 guys drank and did not allow enough time to let alcohol pass through the body. They exercised poor judgement, period. They do not deserve any leniency. They deserve to be treated guilty until proven innocent, just as all the drunk drivers who got pulled over and failed the sobriety test.

company man
7th Jul 2002, 21:04
Yes Ive no sympathy with these guys. We all know the rules.

Im also sure this sector would have been operated safely though but outside the health limits.

7th Jul 2002, 22:45
I think discussing tactics of how to walk the knife-edge between being legal and not, like a bunch of bingeing university students, is missing the real issues.

The Pilots will no doubt be made to pay the Full price for their misjudgement. In fact I reckon they will be made to pay more than the full price, as high-publicity cases unfortunately dictates the maximum sentence regardless of the facts. So the guys will probably do more time than say some quiet murder case up in New York.

However, I don't think it's clever, as a group of Pilots, sitting comfortably in front of their PC's to join in the lynching mob. Yes they screwed up, Yes they will Pay.....Big Time, and Yes they do deserve to Pay the Price for their crime. However like any convicted felon in our Free Society, I can only hope that they will be afforded the same chance of re-habiltation given the most despicable criminals upon completion of their sentence.

If a truck driver gets a drunk driving charge it doesn't mean he can never drive again in the future once his ban has been served. It used to be that Airports were Private Property and as such were difficult to prosecute such cases(ie. Nobody even needs a drivers licence to drive on private property). Is there a maximum sentence for being intoxicated in control of a motorised vehicle in Florida ? Because once their time is served surely they should be allowed to return re-habilitated(they would then be the least likely pilot in the world ever to infringe the drinking laws.)

I don't doubt that the Stress involved in living as a "Modern Jet Pilot" and the kind of fatigue produced by modern computer-generated Rosters all contributed to events. If the "older"one did show signs of problems earlier then it is a shame no one close to him didn't pull him aside earlier before he was allowed to self-destruct his career and his colleagues. It's like any air-crash, Pilot-Error is only one factor in 20 other contributory influences. I don't condone their actions but I'm not willing to participate in the lynching.

Any snyd jokes we have to endure becasue of this incident is peanuts to the price these guys and their families are going to have to Pay. Let the law take it's course, hopefully they get a chance to sort out the real root cause of their problems and I hope they're given the chance to return healthy back to flying. It's a sad day when 1 of us goes down and in other circumstances/pressures maybe it could have been one of us.

You don't always get what you want in life, but you often get what you deserve.

7th Jul 2002, 23:39
PPRUNE and several members make the New York Times. Botom of the article, which is reposted here in its entirety.

July 7, 2002

Drinking and Flying: Nothing New Under the Sun


IN the aviation industry, there is zero tolerance for flying while drunk. In each of the last two years, only 9 of 10,000 airline crew members tested positive for alcohol in random tests by the
Federal Aviation Administration, and none were pilots for major airlines. So it was startling news last week that two co-pilots for America West Airlines, taxiing a planeload of passengers about to
take off for Phoenix, were ordered back to the gate in Miami and charged with being under the influence of alcohol. The pilots were quickly fired and lost their licenses.

Today's airline pilots are responsible, highly trained, usually well-motivated by high salaries and closely monitored for health and for potential alcohol or drug use. But aviators also come from a
lusty tradition where drinking and carousing — what pilots call hell-raising — were long seen as badges of honor. Many of the excesses were curbed after flying became a business with the birth of commercial airlines in the 1930's, but the blue yonder has always attracted more than its share of blithe spirits.

Let's look at some of the lore.

In the early 20th century, well before federal regulation of aviation, barnstormers — freelance daredevils who learned to fly by the seat of their pants or in World War I — had a rip-roaring style. One was Slats Rodgers, a hard-drinking Texan who built his own plane in 1912 and learned how to fly it only after it was airborne.

Again and again, Slats attempted to take the shaking creature into the air. Through some fault in design and in rigging, the right wing now had the discomforting propensity to slip downwards
and at a dangerous angle. Hell, any angle was dangerous at this time to Slats. . . . Again and again, Slats rebuilt the right wing. [Finally] patience ran out and was willingly exchanged for a
sodden, sopping drunk.

Alcoholically angered even beyond his own fiery temper, Slats vowed that he would "fly her or tear her apart."

— "Barnstorming: The Great Years of Stunt Flying," by Bruce Caidin (Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1965)

Barnstormers, of course, didn't have to worry about random alcohol tests on their return to the hangar.

It isn't hard to figure that some of the first men to thumb their noses at gravity might also tend to be somewhat careless about the man-made laws of the land. . . . The yo-yo life pursued by
Slats gives us a decided clue as to just how far a man could go in the days before the Big Brother of the government . . . began getting in the hair of men who lived freely and to the full.

— "Barnstorming"

A few years before World War II, when passenger service started up and aviation became a business, the federal government moved in to impose order. Until then, a pilot's freedom was
limited only by physical factors like the flight ceiling — the highest level under particular weather conditions from which the ground is visible.

There was no Air Traffic Control as such until the late 30's, and even then it consisted of a crude arrangement employed almost solely by the airlines and often ignored by them in good weather. Everyone else flew as they damned pleased. If the ceiling over New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles or Memphis happened to be 200 feet, you flew across the city at 100 feet. . . . No self-respecting second lieutenant in the Air Corps would miss a chance to "beat up" his girlfriend's house with a proper buzz job, and even some airline pilots treated their few passengers to low-level passes so the wife (or girlfriend) would know their man would soon be available.

— "Ernest K. Gann's Flying Circus," by Ernest K. Gann (Macmillan, 1974)

Still, there were frequent reminders that flying was a job best done sober. In 1937, the celebrated aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific on the last leg of an around-the-world trip. Earhart's navigator, Frederick Noonan, who flew with her on that ill-fated last flight, had been known as a heavy drinker in a former job as an airline navigator in Manila.

Noonan developed a bad habit of going on a bender and getting lost among Manila's whorehouses. Before takeoff he'd have to be hunted down and "poured" aboard the airplane. . . .
Noonan was given several warnings about his behavior because, as [his boss] reasonably pointed out, "it would not inspire confidence among the customers if they were to see the
navigator being carried aboard in Manila."

— "The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart," by Mary S. Lovall (St. Martin's Press, 1989)

In radio transmissions during various stages of their final journey, Earhart herself expressed concerns about Noonan's drinking. The following transmission was made 20 hours before their plane lost contact somewhere over the Pacific.

She started the conversation with the remark, "He's hitting the bottle again and I don't even know where he's getting it!" . . . Earhart, whose faith in Fred Noonan was wearing thin, now faced
the possibility of having to do more of the navigation on her own, even though her navigator was aboard.

During much of the crossing, Fred "dozed," according to Amelia. Those who knew Fred wondered if he was hung over. As a result, Amelia did much of her own navigating. . . .

On the evening of July 1, the night before the takeoff from Lae [New Guinea] . . . Fred decided to spend the time drinking with his friends. The next morning, July 2, Fred made it back to his
hotel room only 45 minutes before Amelia came pounding on his door to announce that they would take off in a couple of hours.

— "Amelia Earhart: The Final Story," by Vincent Loomis and Jeffrey Ethell (Random House,

World War II produced a generation of hard-nosed pilots who soon dominated the fledgling commercial airline industry and also led the peacetime military efforts to fly higher and faster in
experimental aircraft. After the war, many top test pilots, some of whom would later fly into space, were stationed at Wright Field, an isolated base at Muroc in the Mojave desert of California. Men
like Chuck Yeager assaulted the sound barrier in the skies by day, and at sundown gathered at Pancho's Fly Inn, a ramshackle saloon.

Yeager didn't go to Pancho's and knock back a few because two days later the big test was coming up. Nor did he knock back a few because it was the weekend. No, he knocked back a few because night had come and he was a pilot at Muroc. In keeping with the military tradition of Flying and Drinking, that was what you did.

— "The Right Stuff," by Tom Wolfe (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979)

Flying and hell-raising — one fueled the other. And that's what Pancho's was all about. . . . For us, a big part of the fellowship of flying was experienced at Pancho's. Being in our early 20's, we
were in good physical shape and at the height of our recuperative powers. That was our Golden Age of flying and fun. By the time we reached 30, our bodies forced moderation on us.

— "Yeager: An Autobiography," by Chuck Yeager and Leon Janos (Bantam Books, 1985)

Russ Schleeh, a fellow test pilot and close friend of Yeager, insisted that nothing that happened at Pancho's kept a man from flying in the morning:

Near dawn, the bar was a wreck, with only a few survivors still standing, and my God, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect, beautiful day. We had to fly!

— "Yeager: An Autobiography"

Last week, though, the good old days seemed far off for a commercial aviation industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history. The American West incident generated hundreds of
rueful postings by commercial pilots on an Internet news group called the Professional Pilots Rumor Network:

Any way you look at this incident, it is dumb and stupid. It gives us all a black eye. Rats. — Jinx300

Now all the security folks and others are going to want to smell our breath. And all the jokes from the pax [passengers]: Good morning, cap, are ya sober yet, or should we come back later?
Ha ha. — TowerDog

Yesterday [a co-pilot] told me that if a passenger walks by us on the plane or during boarding and makes a wisecrack about drinking . . . he will offer to prove his innocence, which would
probably result in a serious delay [for a Breathalyzer test]. I won't hesitate to respond in the same way. . . .

Such comments often come from nervous fliers. Two well-known TV comedians . . . who have been known to beat this topic to death are known to be very nervous fliers. Go ahead, make my
day! — Ignition Override

copyright, New York Times

7th Jul 2002, 23:59
airrage I do not disagree with what you have written above. Clearly any pilot is unaceptably far out of line when they show up for duty with any degree of incapacitation, from alcohol or otherwise, with 'incapacitation' being clerly defined by the applicable legal minimums and standards.

A problem that likely is not much appreciated by some who cruise these pages is that pilots under some flags are in jeopardy of losing their occupation when accused of 'driving while intoxicated', 'drunk and disorderly', perhaps even 'open alcoholic beverage container in vehicle' and other potentially subjective charges. This exposure continues to exist in their private lives - even in circumstances completely disconnected from their work.

The trend to further narrow intox limits and amplify this jeopardy seems especially pronounced in Oz and in the U.S., on the somewhat inflexible and overreaching theory that even marginally improper conduct in the private portion of a person's life imputes the likelihood - or probability - of intent to do same in the practice of his or her profession.

This non-duty category of circumstances creates a large exposure to harassment and / or simple error by authorities of small competence in circumstances not in any way connected with aviation.

8th Jul 2002, 01:58

Don't think the stress associated with a modern days jet pilot's life justifies what these 2 clowns did..!

I have felt some of the "stress" over the years, unemployed, new jobs, good times, bad times, etc.

After 17 flying jobs since 1978 I still remembered, during my night-stops, to slow down the booze intake enough so that I would function the next day. (And be legal to operate)

Come on guys, this is not rocket science, just common sense.
And that is what they pay us for......:rolleyes:

8th Jul 2002, 02:32
The judge that sentenced the NWA crew stated that they had reached the American Dream of being successful and well compensated. They forfeited that dream when they moved that 727. So did the AWA crew. What a pity.

8th Jul 2002, 05:54
The fact of the matter stands. These two professionals were caught, apprehended and charged with being being under the influence. We can argue the why's and wherefores forever.

To most of us, this type of behavior is deplorable and puts a tarnish on what should be, a set of shiny wings. We can sit and criticize the system and point fingers at the accused.

What many of us don't hear or see, are the many pilots and co-workers who have benefited from a caring Employee Assistance Program. They are the lucky ones who have either come with their own free will or have been intervened upon to deal with their alcohol or drug dependance problem through a structured assesment, treatment and follow up system. They indeed are fortunate, back at work today because they benefitted from a system that helped them, and in most cases..no one knows except their families and EAP workers.

Alcohol and drug dependance is at best, a thorny issue. It crosses paths of family, work, economic, and social life. Many see that any effort to interfere with one's drinking only serves to mess up a friend's social life, so to the uneducated or unwary, they tend to back off, for fear of reprisal, thus allowing the problems to continue.

Doubtless if there had been a system in place for these fellows, a safe place for them to go to, the results could have been different.

Alcholism is a diagnosable, treatable disease. It is progressive, chronice and eventually will lead to premature death. Given that kind of information, someone who is ill, either faces the disease and begins treatment or denies that it exists and faces the consequence of their action or inaction.

Having worked in peer group EAPs for years, my heart can only go out to these fellows. If there had been a system in place for them that made it "OK" to 'come in', doubtless we wouldn't be sitting here talking about their misfortunes.

Yes, it is wrong for them to have gone to work in the condition that they were in and at a time like this, yes it is worth the time to offer them a hand and hope that they can find help. They doubtless have wives and family to look after too.

The rules and regulations are there for a purpose. They are designed to protect those who either work or fly on our system. That can't be changed. If the rules and regulations are a problem to the social atmosphere, then there can be two pathways...suffer the consequences as did our colleagues or seek help now while help is available.

8th Jul 2002, 09:31

"Don't think the stress associated with a modern days jet pilot's life justifies what these 2 clowns did..! "

Neither do I, if you read my post, I said, "stress....... all contributed to events" followed by "I don't condone their actions but I'm not willing to participate in the lynching. "

Greek God
8th Jul 2002, 10:09
Does anyone know of the relationship between the Cap & FO. ie. were they mates of old, what was the age difference, etc. Or is there any info of exactly what they got up to the previous night?
My point being what happened to CRM or watching each others six. I have often been down route with someone who likes to imbibe in the odd refreshment and while it is easy to get caught up the "vortex" of a party with the whole crew it is different if there are only two of you. I will always try to slow the pace or remind surreptitously of the report time if the pace is too fast or high. Ulimately if someone won't take the hint I will be blunt but you can only go so far irrespective of your position (Cap or FO) If to no avail I will remove myself when I see fit and be extra vigilant the following day had my counterpart remained. But as you can imagine that in itself can open a whole new can of worms!!
Airrage excellent posting IMO
Common Sense should prevail and if you need to err make sure its on the correct side of the drag curve. If not - we are all big boys & girls and know the consequences - No excuses

8th Jul 2002, 12:08
Arcniz, of course I don't advocate driving while lubricated... I respect what you say, but I think you take me a little too seriously.

I was merely trying to make the point that getting involved in a rumpus with security over a coffee is probably one of the silliest things one could do, if one had already made the decision to drive while over the limit.

(Based on the assumption that the perpetrator of an illegal act seeks NOT to be caught and punished for that act.)

To me, it's like driving your car drunk at night and not putting your lights on; you increase your chances of getting busted which is--moral issues aside--totally illogical.

Of course, booze and bad judgement make excellent bedfellows.

I wonder whether the episode with security would ever have played out as it did, if the pilots had been well-rested and not in the condition they were. I suspect not.


Note to journos: I ain't a pilot, nor do I play one on TV.

8th Jul 2002, 15:37
GrandPrix, as to your earlier conclusions made above: the NWA captain was "rehabilitated" and in fact had retired as a 74 skipper. (It's the kind of stuff the public doesn't hear about)>:)

Mac the Knife
8th Jul 2002, 20:35
Right on 777AV8R

Good EAPs in fact save companies (and families and fellow-workers) a lot of money and headeaches - which is why so many of the biggies have 'em. Substance abuse is a fact of life today and the sensible thing is catch valuable employees before they get near the plughole, let alone down the drain.

In my experience most EAP assisted personnel get better, continue working (often after a short break) and become productive, motivated people with better than average performance records.

Did America West have one? If it did, then perhaps it needs an overhaul.

9th Jul 2002, 04:27
You are so right, Mac.

There are many excellent follow-up studies on fellow employees who have been through assisted rehabilitation programs. You are correct in that those who have gone through a program come back to be more productive and better employees. In fact, these fortunate people end up being at the 'top of the heap'.

A good EAP shields the individual from the co workers and in my experience, when an individual went off sick for rehabilitation purposes, the individual was always have thought to have moved to another base as nobody really knew where he / she was. When we were able to look after our colleague like that and watch them successfully go through rehabilitation and no one really knew what was going on, we considered that we had done our job.

As for the AW system, I am not familiar enough with their operation to know if they have an EAP.

10th Jul 2002, 03:33

Nowack said the crew decided to take the woman off the aircraft after determining that her remarks constituted a potential security problem.
Hmm. A tad OTT wouldn't you say ?

10th Jul 2002, 03:47
Glue Ball:

Yes, do remember the NW captain that had 19 rum n'cokes the night before he went flying.
Also remember the crying story he wrote in the ALPA magazine.

Guess it worked, he got the job back after 5 years or so, thanks to ALPA and the crying job..

We all have a seniority number, we are all thirsty, and we all make our priorities.

Not rocket science here guys....: We all have enough days off at home to get drunk, why do it on the road??
:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

10th Jul 2002, 07:50
Hmm. A tad OTT wouldn't you say ?

America West were the outfit that won a "worst customer service' award" a few years back.

They had a contract to fly a baseball team around, but one day the team plane was grounded leaving them stuck in Phoenix. America West didn't have a spare plane on the ground, but there were plenty in the air, so they brought a plane which was in flight back to the airport. They chucked all the passengers off, loaded it up with the baseball team, and off they went!

Lets hope the lady gets a grovelling apology and loads on free flights on Southwest :D

10th Jul 2002, 15:52
Thanks for the history of the relationship between drinking and aviatiors. Until this unfortunate incident, I used to maintain that you "never trust a pilot who doesn't drink--unless he's in rehab."

We all know our limits. Most of us know we have exceeded our limits at one time or another. Incidents like these are like the gentle reminder of a baseball bat to the head--this ain't the old days. Everyone is watching us(for various reasons) and we are occasionally our own worst enemy.

Ignition Override echoed my thoughts this past week. I told my wife that if anyone made a crack about my state of sobriety, it's off to the D & A test site--at a leisurely pace. If you continue the flight after someone makes a comment like that, you are opening yourself up to problems later.

Don't drink and drive and for heaven's sake don't get into a pissing contest with security or the agents!;) TC

I. M. Esperto
10th Jul 2002, 16:29
I had an F/E show up for a trip once who seemed a bit drunk to me. He was a good man that I knew for some time.

I told him to fein a sudden illness, and get lost. He called Crew Sched. and did just that. Had he not, I would have had to have him checked for sobriety, and it probably would have been the end of him.

I got a new F/E and we experienced a 30 minute daly.

The next time I flew with him, he thanked me.

11th Jul 2002, 04:52
> Ignition Override echoed my thoughts this past week. I told
> my wife that if anyone made a crack about my state of sobriety,
> it's off to the D & A test site--at a leisurely pace. If you continue
> the flight after someone makes a comment like that, you are
> opening yourself up to problems later.

Hmmm... where would this end... Guess if comments that you
can't see, gotta go for a vision test.
They say you can't fly, a flight test, bad english - that's
another test. Can't allow passengers to make any
critical comments can you... gimme a break!

Someone on America West made a silly comment, and that's
all it was. Those on the plane that work for America West
are a bunch of cry babies. The comment (a
question actually) had no implications for security.

The people who they should check for sobriety - are those
passengers not up to figuring out that America West is
the real joke.

11th Jul 2002, 05:57
Pax: "Have you given the pilot a breathalyzer test, ha ha ?"

FA: "Yes ma'am, we have"

No story. Non-event. Life moves on.

11th Jul 2002, 06:25
Can you imagine....now these guys want pistols.
Will Captain Wyatt Earp please report to the dispatch for testing?

Guns and booze...a BAD combination.:eek: :eek:

11th Jul 2002, 14:36
Yep, this stuff does occur more often than we'd like to admit...


Another pilot caught drunk at Miami airport

News partner CBS 4

Posted July 11 2002, 6:35 AM EDT

An AeroMexico pilot has been fired after being caught drunk while getting ready to fly a passenger flight out of Miami.

CBS 4 reported that the pilot was stopped about two months ago when screeners at Miami International Airport noticed alcohol on his breath.

Miami-Dade police were called and, after the pilot agreed, he was given a sobriety test. He failed and was not allowed on the plane, but he was not arrested because he had not entered the plane.

An AeroMexico spokesman said the pilot, who lives in Mexico, was fired after the airline learned of the incident.

"our main priority is the safety of our passengers and we have a zero tolerance policy (relating to alcohol abuse) ... and that's why he was fired immediately," the spokesman said.

Earlier this month, two America West pilots who allegedly had been drinking were arrested after they tried to take command of their scheduled flight at Miami International with 120 passengers aboard.

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


>>Yes, do remember the NW captain that had 19 rum n'cokes the night before he went flying.
Also remember the crying story he wrote in the ALPA magazine.

Guess it worked, he got the job back after 5 years or so, thanks to ALPA and the crying job..<<

Here's more on Captain Prouse:


He's now a motivational speaker, see:



In the U.S., if you claim that your actions were due to an ethanol dependency, you are basically a protected species if you agree to rehab:


17th Jul 2002, 07:21
Family fumes after being booted from plane
Passenger says he just wanted to know if crew was sober
By Claire Osborn


Tuesday, July 16, 2002

One question to a flight crew, and their summer vacation was ruined, members of an Austin-area family said.

While on their way to go fishing in Canada, Hans von Schweinitz and his family were told to leave an America West flight after he asked whether the pilots had taken a sobriety test.

He said he posed the question to a flight attendant while boarding the plane July 6 in Phoenix because he was concerned that two America West pilots in Miami previously had been charged with operating an aircraft while intoxicated.

The pilots agreed to take a blood alcohol test, but afterward they told von Schweinitz to get off the plane.

Von Schweinitz, 68, a German immigrant, said being kicked off the plane reminded him of living in Germany during World War II.

"It sent cold chills down my back," he said. "My family opposed Hitler, but if you asked the wrong questions, you took your life in your hands, because the SS and Gestapo had complete power."

America West is reviewing the incident, said Janet Monahan, a spokeswoman for the airline. Airplane crews can ask passengers to leave a flight if they cause a disruption or pose a threat, Monahan said.

"What we need to determine was: Were there concerns along those lines?" she said.

Von Schweinitz, retired from the U.S. Air Force, was flying to Seattle with his 37-year-old son, Christopher von Schweinitz, and his 9-year-old grandson, Matt von Schweinitz.

They were boarding Flight 79 at 7:30 a.m. in Phoenix when the elder von Schweinitz asked about the sobriety test. After they took their seats, a flight attendant told them the pilots would take the test, said Christopher von Schweinitz.

Then the flight crew announced that the plane's departure would be delayed because a passenger had asked if the pilot had taken a blood alcohol test.

The delay lasted 2 1/2 hours while the crew waited for a blood alcohol test to be brought to the airport.

"The passengers were upset, and what was a little disconcerting was that we could hear someone talking on a cell phone and saying, `Some idiot asked this question,' " Christopher von Schweinitz said.

Finally a pilot announced that the crew had passed the sobriety test.

"He said parents should teach their children that there are consequences to asking questions and that the passenger who asked the question was going to be taken off the plane," Christopher von Schweinitz said.

A security guard escorted the von Schweinitz family off the plane. The airline put the family on the next flight to Seattle.

"People cheered, and that was embarrassing and humiliating," Christopher von Schweinitz said.

"The guy said he could put us on the next America West flight, but we had to give our word that we wouldn't ask questions like that again, and we said that we wouldn't."

The von Schweinitzes have returned to the Austin area from their fishing vacation. They immediately took their story to the tabloid TV show "Inside Edition." It aired Monday.

They have not heard from the airline, but Hans von Schweinitz says an apology wouldn't satisfy him. He says his vacation and his fishing were ruined.

"I have learned that an apology does not solve the problem," he said. "It is up to the airline to find a way to correct it so that two pilots don't fly together drunk."

America West Airlines has had reports of more than 100 sobriety comments made by passengers since two pilots were accused of preparing to fly a passenger jet while drunk in Florida two weeks ago. Both pilots lost their licenses.

"Consistent with our commitment to safety, we need to take these comments seriously," the airline said in a statement. "Most have been handled professionally. However, unfortunately in a few cases, we have overreacted."

17th Jul 2002, 07:31
Pilots plead innocent. MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Two America West pilots have pleaded innocent to charges they were drunk when they tried to fly a jetliner.

Thomas Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41, entered the pleadings last week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. They are each charged with a felony count of operating an aircraft under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

17th Jul 2002, 15:46
Way to go, Hans !
Now not only does everybody who was on that flight know you are a farking imbecile, so do all the intellectuals :rolleyes: who watch tabloid TV. And all the intellectuals :D who read PPruNe.

23rd Jul 2002, 14:08
Posted on Tue, Jul. 23, 2002

America West pilots rang up hefty bar tab

Party downed equivalent of 30 beers

[email protected]

When Miami-Dade police asked America West pilot Capt. Thomas Porter Cloyd how many beers he drank just hours before he attempted to fly 124 passengers from Miami to Phoenix, he replied: ''Too many,'' according to court documents released Monday.

The pilots, yanked from their cockpit July 1 because police suspected they were drunk, rang up a $122 bar tab at Mr. Moe's in Coconut Grove the night before the flight. Their party, prosecutors say, consumed the equivalent of 30 12-ounce bottles of beer and one martini between 10:49 p.m. and 4:22 a.m.

The only food listed on the tab: a hamburger.

Eight hours after closing out the tab, police say, Cloyd registered a blood alcohol level of .091 and First Officer Christopher Scott Hughes tested at .081.

It's not clear exactly how many people were drinking at Moe's with Cloyd, 44, and Hughes, 41.

The receipt seems to indicate there might have been as many as 11 people in the pilots' party, but prosecutor Ron Ramsingh said he expects to have evidence that contradicts that.

''You shouldn't infer from the receipt that there were 11 people in their party drinking that alcohol,'' Ramsingh said. "We contend there were far fewer than that.''

A manager at Moe's declined to comment Monday afternoon. But two sources familiar with the case say investigators obtained a security tape from the bar that shows there were between four and six people in the party.

Ramsingh asked a judge Monday to revoke the pilots' bail, claiming they left Miami-Dade County and returned to their homes in Arizona without getting the court's permission.

Hughes' attorney James K. Rubin said his client believed his contract with the bail bond company allowed him to travel.

''The bondsmen told them they could travel back to Arizona,'' Rubin said. Cloyd is represented by attorney William Pearson.


Both men have been ordered to appear in court Aug. 1.

''I'm not trying to lock them up until the trial,'' Ramsingh said. "We just want them to follow proper procedure and come back and ask the court for permission to be in Arizona.''

Both men have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor DUI charges and felony charges of operating an airplane while intoxicated.

They face up to six years in prison if convicted on all counts, Ramsingh said.

The Federal Aviation Administration revoked the men's pilots certificates three days after the incident. America West also fired them.

According to prosecution evidence released Monday to the defense lawyers:

The receipt shows the pilots' table ordered seven 34-ounce Sierra Nevada draft beers; seven 16 ounce Sierra Nevada draft beers; one martini; one ''happy hour draft''; and one "Western Burger.''

Cloyd and Hughes closed out the tab at 4:22 a.m.


Six hours later, they arrived at Miami International Airport to pilot a 10:39 a.m. flight. Security guards said they appeared drunk.

The guards called police and said the pilots reeked of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, flushed faces, and became irate when they were told they couldn't pass through a security checkpoint with large cups of coffee.

Hughes told the guards it was just his ''bad breath'' when they asked him if he had been drinking, according to court records. Both pilots soon took the controls and began taxiing the jet for takeoff. Miami-Dade officers called the control tower and had the plane return to the gate.

Officers queried Hughes about his breath. He responded the scent was ''merely mouthwash,'' according to the arrest report. Police read the pilots their rights against self-incrimination, court records show, and then asked them how much alcohol they drank.


The pilots said they were drinking pints of draft beer at Moe's. Cloyd said he didn't know how many he had consumed, but that it was ''too many,'' according to an investigator's notation.

Hughes told police he had consumed ''many'' pints.

FAA regulations prohibit pilots from operating an aircraft within eight hours of consuming alcohol or if they have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher.

Florida's legal limit for driving is .08. America West policy bans drinking within 12 hours of a scheduled departure.


23rd Jul 2002, 19:40
Here's today's update:

State: Pilots in rehab

The Associated Press
Posted July 23, 2002, 3:03 PM EDT

MIAMI -- Two America West pilots accused of being drunk when they tried to fly a jetliner are in alcohol rehabilitation and are set for release a day after their next scheduled court date, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Lawyers for Thomas Porter Cloyd and Christopher Hughes have requested a Wednesday hearing to ask a judge to move their Aug. 1 court appearance because the pilots will be in alcohol rehabilitation in Arizona until Aug. 2, Assistant State Attorney Ronald Ramsingh said. The men entered the 28-day program days after they were arrested July 1 in Miami, Ramsingh said. He said he didn't know which center the men were in...


Hard to say if this will let them cop a plea and stay out of prison (assuming they are found guilty), it sometimes works in "celebrity" substance abuse cases.

Here's a copy of the infamous bar tab:


3rd Oct 2002, 18:06
Efforts to cop a plea have apparently failed, now they are going to claim they weren't driving and the cops had no probable cause to arrest and test them.

Looks like the lawyers are also trying to use a less stringent .10 federal motor vehicle alcohol limit. The .04 FAA limit is mentioned in the first article.

Posted on Mon, Sep. 30, 2002

2 pilots accused of DUI say they weren't actually driving when arrested
[email protected]

Two former America West pilots arrested for trying to fly 124 passengers from Miami to Phoenix while drunk say the charges against them should be dropped because they weren't actually in control of the jet when police yanked them out of the cockpit.

A ''tug vehicle'' had been attached to the Airbus 319, pulled the jet away from the gate and then pulled it back after police and security ordered the plane to return, according to court documents filed by lawyers for the pilots.

''The pilot, although seated in a fully functioning plane, did not have the ability to control the plane's steering,'' reads a motion asking the Circuit Judge David Young to dismiss the case.

The motion goes on to say the two had to actually be ''operating'' the plane to be arrested.

Pilot Thomas Porter Cloyd and First Officer Christopher Hughes were removed from their cockpit July 1 after workers at a security checkpoint told police the pilots reeked of alcohol and became confrontational when asked to give up their cups of coffee before passing through a metal detector.

Cloyd and Hughes, who both live in Arizona, appeared in court on Monday for a report on the status of the case.

They heard prosecutor Ron Ramsingh add an additional criminal charge against them: culpable negligence for endangering the lives of the passengers and crew on board that day.

The two had previously been charged with driving while impaired and operating an aircraft while intoxicated.

Cloyd and Hughes have pleaded innocent to all charges. They declined to comment for this story.

The pair rang up a $122 bar tab at Mr. Moe's in Coconut Grove the night before the flight, according to court documents.

Their party of 4, prosecutors say, consumed the equivalent of 30 12-ounce bottles of beer and one martini between 10:49 p.m. and 4:22 a.m. The only food listed on the tab: a hamburger.

Eight hours after closing out the tab, police say, Cloyd registered a blood alcohol level of .091 and Hughes tested at .081, both higher than Florida's legal limit of .08.

The pilots have asked Young to throw out the case before it goes to trial on several grounds. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 23.

Cloyd and Huges contend that police had no probable cause to arrest them and ask them to submit to sobriety tests. The mere odor of alcohol is not enough evidence, their lawyers wrote in motions to the court.

Defense attorneys James Rubin and William Pearson did not return calls for comment.

Ramsingh said prosecutors will file a response to the requests to throw the case out withing two weeks.

After the incident America West fired them and the Federal Aviation Administration suspended their pilot certificates.

FAA regulations ban pilots from operating an aircraft if they have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher.


Pilots plead innocent to new charge

MIAMI, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Two America West pilots accused of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol pleaded innocent Monday to an additional charge of culpable negligence. Circuit Judge David Young moved the trial date from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4 and a hearing date was set for Oct. 23 on a motion to dismiss and another motion to move the case to federal court.
The motion to dismiss was based on the defense's contention that the pilots were not operating the plane. It was being pushed out onto the runway by an airport tractor and the aircraft's steering mechanism was locked.
Moving the case to federal court would bring the pilots' blood-alcohol tests under the federal threshold. State law requires a blood-alcohol level to be over .08 to be under the influence, while federal law requires a .10 reading.
Both Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes registered between those two levels.
CNN reported that an attempt for a plea bargain has fallen through...

... Cloyd and Hughes both face possible prison time if they are convicted.
Police records show it was Cloyd's fourth arrest on alcohol-related charges, but the airline said it knew nothing about any of the incidents. The two men have been fired by the airline pending an appeal by the Airline Pilots Association.


I. M. Esperto
3rd Oct 2002, 18:21
Thanks for the interesting updates.

A thought - They DID presumably start the engines, and release the brakes.

6th Aug 2003, 10:41
Looks like they copped a walk on the state charges:

Judge Rules Florida Can't Prosecute Drunk Pilots

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

MIAMI — The state cannot prosecute two America West (search) pilots who were fired for taking the controls of their jetliner after a night of heavy drinking, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Patricia Seitz said not only must the state drop charges of drunken operation of a jet against pilot Thomas Cloyd (search), 45, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes (search), 42, but the state cannot take any other action based on their arrests in July 2002.

The pilots' blood-alcohol results were above the state drunkenness standard of 0.08 percent but below the federal criminal standard of 0.10 percent.

Seitz said the federal government has come to dominate the field of commercial aviation, leaving no room for the state unless there is a loss of life, injury or damage.

A spokesman for the state attorney's office said it would appeal the ruling.

The pilots were at the controls when their Airbus carrying 124 passengers was pushed away from the gate for a Miami-Phoenix flight. At the same time, security guards were reporting that the men smelled of alcohol, and the plane was brought back to the gate.

The pilots were stripped of their commercial licenses.

Attorney James Rubin said he told his client Hughes the news and "of course he was happy." Cloyd's attorney was not available for comment.


6th Aug 2003, 14:00
Is it true in America West that 5 cabin crew are carried on the airbus,4 to work and one to help the 80 year old cabin crew member down the gangway!
Does this zero tolerance of alcohol apply to cabin crew as they appear to think it doesnt,there is no way some of them are
fit to work on a long haul flight after staggering in at 7am ready for a departure late that afternoon

8th Jul 2004, 18:47
Here come the federal charges:

America West pilots charged with being drunk in cockpit


Associated Press

MIAMI - Two fired America West pilots were charged in a federal indictment released Thursday with being drunk in the cockpit as they left a gate at Miami International Airport two years ago.

Pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, who are appealing similar state charges, were charged with being under the influence of alcohol while operating an airliner. Both were expected to make their first appearance on the charge later Thursday.

The pilots were at the controls when their Airbus carrying 124 passengers left the gate for a flight to Phoenix in July 2002. Authorities stopped the plane after security guards reported smelling alcohol on the pilots, and the plane returned to the gate before takeoff.

The pilots were videotaped drinking beer for hours at a sports bar until seven hours before the flight. Blood-alcohol results for Cloyd and Hughes were above the state drunkenness standard of 0.08 but below the federal criminal standard of 0.10.

A pilot would be presumed drunk under federal criminal law above the 0.10 level, but could still be convicted with a lower number if a jury found evidence of impairment.

Federal regulations ban pilots from drinking within eight hours of flights, and both pilots lost their commercial licenses under a rule barring a preflight blood-alcohol of 0.04 or higher. As a bail condition in the state case, they were barred from recreational flying as well.

Attorneys for the pilots declined to comment on the indictment. William Pearson, who represented Cloyd in the state case, said he believed both pilots would ask for court-appointed lawyers on the indictment because they couldn't afford private ones after their two-year legal battle.

The state charged both pilots, and a state appeals court has upheld prosecution.

But a federal judge sided with the pilots by ruling that Congress carved out aviation safety as an area of federal jurisdiction and left no room for the state to prosecute without loss of life, injury or damage. An appeal on that issue has been heard but not decided.


1st Feb 2005, 03:58
Federal case dropped against two allegedly drunk America West pilots

By Catherine Wilson
Associated Press Writer

January 31, 2005, 5:39 PM EST

MIAMI -- Federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges against two fired America West pilots less than three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed state prosecutors to pursue their own case.

The decision leaves the pilots facing one trial instead of two after videotape showed the pilots spent much of the night before their flight drinking beer at a popular sports bar in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood.

Pilot Thomas Cloyd of Peoria, Ariz., and co-pilot Christopher Hughes of Leander, Texas, backed their Airbus, carrying 124 passengers, out of a Miami airport gate for a flight to Phoenix in July 2002. The plane was ordered back to the terminal after airport security reported smelling alcohol on the pilots.

Blood-alcohol results were above the state drunkenness standard of 0.08 but below the federal standard of 0.10 [sic].

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke signed an order Friday accepting the federal government's request to drop charges that the pilots were under the influence of alcohol when operating the jet. Without a higher blood-alcohol reading, federal prosecutors would have had to prove the charge by the pilots' behavior.

In state court, they face charges of operating an aircraft while intoxicated, driving a vehicle while impaired and culpable negligence. Arguments on motions are set March 22 and a tentative trial date is set May 4.

The pilots' attorney for the state case and the state attorney's office declined to comment. The pilots' attorneys in the federal case didn't immediately return phone messages Monday.

Both pilots lost their commercial licenses shortly after their arrests and have been barred from recreational flying as a condition of bail.

The pilots appealed their prosecution by the state, arguing that Congress carved out aviation safety as an area of federal jurisdiction and left no room for state prosecution unless there was a loss of life, injury or damage.

A federal judge agreed, but an appeals court disagreed, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the issue.


1st Feb 2005, 11:57
The wheels of justice move extremely slowly but provide a nice little earner for Attorneys. (The Hatfield trial is allegedly going to last a year. ) Isn't it amazing that the War Crimes Tribunal after WW2 took less time to deal with matters than this case of alleged intoxication. In the meantime these two guys cannot follow their chosen occupation.

3rd Feb 2005, 05:40
You really think these guys should be ALLOWED to follow their chosen occupation?

Or did I read you wrong and these guys are professional drunks?

3rd Feb 2005, 07:53
Check the reported alcohol levels before you decide they were professional drunks.

3rd Feb 2005, 08:21
Honestly I can not follow all these statements anymore so can somebody pls explain what the present status of the situation is and correct me if necessary!

1. The pilots have benn arrested and tested positively
2. Their Licences are canx (Thats okay I think)
3. There is a Law-Case going on and now there seems to be the opportunity that hte judge can not blame them because the Aviation field is out of his control as long as there is no Incident?

Anyway, guys remember my words:

3rd Feb 2005, 08:32
Blood-alcohol results were above the state drunkenness standard of 0.08 but below the federal standard of 0.10 [sic].

How do these levels compare to the U.K. ? :confused:

24th May 2005, 03:37
The familiar "we didn't know we wuz going flying" defense, a variation worked for the nameless (on PPRuNe) American Virgin pilot last year...

"It's like a video game," said James Rubin, Hughes' attorney. "You can sit in the plane and move the controls but you have no control."

Posted on Mon, May. 23, 2005

Prosecutors detail case against pilots charged with endangerment


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

MIAMI - (KRT) - Two former America West pilots charged with operating an aircraft while drunk were so impaired when they entered the cockpit in July 2002 that they failed simple sobriety tests, prosecutors told jurors Monday as the pilots went on trial.

The Miami-Dade County Circuit Court jury must decide if the pilots, Thomas Cloyd of Peoria, Ariz. and Christopher Hughes of Leander, Texas, were in control of the airplane when it was being towed away from a terminal at Miami International Airport.

If convicted, the two men could be sentenced to a maximum five-year prison sentence for endangering the lives of the 127 people aboard the Phoenix-bound flight.

Defense attorneys said that the airplane's controls were disconnected and that the tug operator, not the pilots, controlled the plane.

"It's like a video game," said James Rubin, Hughes' attorney. "You can sit in the plane and move the controls but you have no control."

Prosecutors, however, said Cloyd and Hughes were in charge of the plane, giving the tug operator instructions from the cockpit as the plane's engines were running.

Assistant State Attorney Hillah Sara Katz told jurors that Airbus designed the airplane to be controlled by two pilots. The FAA also requires two pilots to fly the airplane, she said.

"A pilot and a co-pilot are required to operate this airplane . . . on July 1, 2002 the only two people who did not require it were the defendants."

Police stopped the plane before it could get to the runway, ordering the tug operator to return to the terminal. When police gave the two pilots a Breathalyzer test hours after the flight's scheduled take off time, results showed that both men had a blood alcohol level higher than Florida's legal limit of .08, prosecutors said.

"Those numbers at 10:30 a.m. would have been much higher than they were at 1 p.m.," Katz said.

During her opening statement, Katz said the two men started drinking while having dinner with two flight attendants. The four split a bottle of wine and one of the pilots had a martini, she said.

The drinking continued at Mr. Moe's, a popular Coconut Grove bar, where Cloyd and Hughes ordered seven 34-ounce and seven 16-ounce Sierra Nevada beers. Katz said the $122 tab included a martini and one hamburger, but that was for the one of the flight attendants.

While the flight attendants left for their hotel at about midnight, Cloyd and Hughes didn't leave until about 5 a.m. and only after they were asked to leave for knocking down barstools, Katz said.

The next morning, Cloyd and Hughes arrived late for work and stopped for coffee. Although a Federal Aviation Authority rules at the time prevented anyone from bringing a liquid beyond a security checkpoint, Cloyd argued that the rule didn't apply to him.

After throwing out the coffee, Cloyd and Hughes crossed the security checkpoint, but Hughes set off the metal detectors prompting a closer examination. A screener noticed a strong smell of alcohol on his breath.

Police were eventually notified and were ordered to stop the plane.

"Miami-Dade Police opened the door and were confronted by Captain Cloyd in his belligerent attitude," Katz said, "demanding to know why his airplane was stopped."

Defense attorneys sidestepped the issue of alcohol, saying that the main issue is whether the pilots had any real control over the plane.

"They didn't endanger anyone because the plane was connected to the tug," said Dan Foodman, the attorney for Cloyd. "There is no evidence that they endangered life or property."

24th May 2005, 05:38

So let me get this straight now... Is the defence suggesting that the tug was intending to haul the a/c and pax all the way to Phoenix ?


24th May 2005, 06:01
Either that, or the captain and FO were going to suddenly see the light, head back to the terminal and turn themselves in when they heard tower say "cleared for takeoff".

24th May 2005, 09:35
Just a few more obvious questions to be asked of the defence: like for instance, who signed for the aircraft, exactly, i.e. who was officially in command? The tug driver? (or should it be tug pilot?)

If the pilots were not operating the aircraft, who started the engines?

Does the connection of the tug disable the aircraft brakes? (Surely, the crew must still have just a teensy-weensy bit of direct control remaining?)

Perhaps the crew should have remembered the last ditch line of defence - if you must drink and drive/fly, don't breathe.

Few Cloudy
26th May 2005, 19:17
So finally it has happened in the States too. Judging by the noms de plume most of the contributors are American citizens. There have been quite a few of these incidents in Europe over the past couple of years - all documented on PPrune.

I have to say that the overwhelming condemnation by the contributors makes a refreshing contrast to the excuses and sympathies shown by their colleagues from Europe.

27th May 2005, 02:38
Lets be honest guys. The point here to prove is were they drunk or not. The rest of the techniclities managed by lawyers become a slap in the face depending were someone stands. What do I mean?
Rights , rule of law , article x , plea guity in order to be "forgiven" and get a lesser penalty ..."mmm actualy they were not driving,,,, aaaa is like a video game...."and the list could go forever. Is like the cop shutting someone if he feels his live is in danger if a guy pulls a gun out. The crook do not need to fire at all.
Today all this "guardians of the abused" are in favor of all this smart ways to get around, but if tomorrow someone else kills one of their family members for sure all this smart ways wont be valid anymore.
Doble standars cannot be there to use them anytime it pleases us. So, did they drink ? Yes. Did they were going to fly? Yes. Did they had pax on board? Yes. Do they deserve to be treated and help them recover from this sickness? Yes. Do they need to be punished? Yes.
Doble standards? Ok, goverments from around the world do not forget that doctors, nurses, and so many involved in the health industry kill MANY MORE and very few is known about it. Every hospital, surgery room should also have its "black box".

27th May 2005, 06:58
The whole defense IMHO is preposterous..the crew tested over the limit, signed a dispatch release, accepted an aircraft, and were pushing back with the intent to fly to their destination....these futile exercises in semantics by the defense are ridiculous, and a last ditch effort to get these guys out of something they deserve to be knee deep in...hope the jury has at least a modicum of common sense and convicts them....

28th May 2005, 08:55
Miami-Dade Officers: Pilots Smelled Of Alcohol, Failed DUI Test

POSTED: 8:43 am EDT May 27, 2005
UPDATED: 9:01 am EDT May 27, 2005

MIAMI -- A veteran Miami-Dade County Police sergeant testified Thursday that hours after two America West pilots left a sports bar from a night of drinking, they were still "impaired to the extent that they could not safely operate a vehicle."

Under Florida law, an airplane is classified as a vehicle.

Sgt. Steven Leibowitz said he tested pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes after their plane was ordered back to its gate at Miami International Airport before it could take off for Phoenix.

Leibowitz said he tested the two and judged the alcohol level for both to be at 0.10. Florida's legal limit for driving is 0.08.

He said he was called to the America West gate at about 10:30 a.m. on July 1, 2002, and gave the test between 11:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Earlier testimony showed the pilots left the bar in the trendy Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami at about 4:40 a.m.

Normally, Leibowitz testified, he would have had them perform three actions for a DUI test: walk a straight line and turn, stand on one leg, and follow his finger with their eyes.

But he could only perform the vision test because "you have to have flat, dry, hard ground to do the straight line and leg stand exercises," and the concourse was carpeted and it was raining outside.

He said neither man could follow his finger from left to right and back with their eyes moving in a smooth path. He said a nationally accepted mathematical formula equates the eye test with an alcohol level in the body, and based on that, the "alcohol level approximated 0.10" for each man.

Leibowitz will be cross-examined by defense lawyers when the trial resumes Tuesday.

Earlier, former officer John Methvin testified that the pilots smelled like alcohol when they left their cockpit.

"The captain exited the plane and asked me, 'Why was my plane being pulled back?' ... He appeared slightly agitated," Methvin testified. "I noticed alcohol on his breath."

Methvin also said he noticed alcohol on Hughes' breath, and said his eyes were bloodshot. He said he stopped Cloyd from getting back on the plane until it could be determined whether he was impaired.

On cross examination, Methvin acknowleged that neither Cloyd nor Hughes had slurred speech or stumbled when they walked.

The airline was towed back to the terminal after airport security workers reported noticing a strong odor of alcohol as the pilots boarded.

Cloyd and Hughes each face up to five years in prison if convicted and have already lost their commercial pilots' licenses.

Their attorneys said last week during opening statements that the pilots were not impaired and, besides, the steering was disengaged from the cockpit and neither pilot could actually operate the plane as it was being towed away from the gate.

The plane had 124 passengers and three flight attendants on board.

Prosecutors say that between them, Cloyd and Hughes ran up a $122 tab and consumed seven 34-ounce glasses and seven 16-ounce glasses of beer over a six-hour period at popular bar. At dinner before that, they consumed wine and Cloyd drank a martini.

The revelry ended about six hours before the flight was to depart. Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibit commercial pilots from flying within eight hours of consuming alcohol.

On Wednesday a bartender and a videotape took center stage at the trial of two former America West pilots accused of trying to fly drunk.

The jury watched nearly two hours worth of surveillance video in which Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes are seen playing pool and drinking at Mr. Moe's in Coconut Grove bar. That was just hours before their scheduled flight from Miami to Phoenix in July 2002.


28th May 2005, 10:33
I found a clever spreadsheet that can calculate your BAC (blood alcohol content), and work it out how it drops off over time. Not sure how accurate it is, but it seems to work for me.

I set up the NWA case mentioned by Tower Dogs (19 rum and cokes), and it's evident that one would still be drunk the next morning.

BAC calculator (http://www.geocities.com/profemery/entertainment/BAC.xls)

Someone just needs to reprogramme it to be able to calculate in litre size steins of beer and then its sehr gut!

28th May 2005, 16:01
We had the NWA Capt that Tower Dogs spoke of on our jump seat about 6 years ago. It was a very interesting conversation...very frank.

He stated he and his crew's actions were not defendable, and I fully agreed with that statement...still do.

The following is not intended to draw sympathy for him, but I can tell you that Tower Dog's post is very simplified.

He did hard labor in Prison...I think he said 24 months, or something like that. This was a life changing experience for both he and his family.

Then he had to re-train for and pass his Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, and ATP check-rides all over again...one at a time.

Then he had to try to get his job back. When he did, he had to try to figure out how to manage working with many that felt he knocked the profession back decades (as I believe he did).

No intention of drawing sympathy, but it was not simply having ALPA fight for his job back while sunning by his backyard pool.

29th May 2005, 22:42
The jury watched nearly two hours worth of surveillance video in which Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes are seen playing pool

and no video of them clearly taking command of the plane?

31st May 2005, 06:33
When the crew signed a dispatch release, or any other document accepting the aircraft, they in fact took command of the flight...whether or not they were manipulating the controls is another matter...

31st May 2005, 10:38
hobie asked:How do these levels compare to the U.K. ? The Eueropean level is 0.02 for aircrew, including cabin crew, and 0.08 for ground engineers

31st May 2005, 10:48
0.02 for cabin crew? You must be joking,having seen them stagger in at 7am in a south american destination then supposedly operate at 5pm.Then again they are only on their
feet for less than 2 hours and its into the comfy sack.

2nd Jun 2005, 18:43
Pilots 'operate' plane even on ground, AmWest exec testifies

Associated Press
May. 31, 2005 06:11 PM

MIAMI - A veteran pilot testified Tuesday that two pilots accused of being drunk while operating an America West passenger plane at Miami International Airport were technically operating the plane even if it was still on the ground.

Called by prosecutors, Capt. Joseph Chronic, vice president for flight operations for America West, struck at a key part of the defense's strategy in describing at length what the airline requires a pilot and co-pilot to do to prepare a plane for flight.

Defense lawyers for pilot Thomas Cloyd of Peoria, Ariz., and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, of Leander, Texas, had argued that that the pilots were not impaired. They also said the steering was disengaged from the cockpit and neither pilot could actually operate the plane as it was being tugged toward or away from the runway.

Chronic said that pilots are considered to be operating the aircraft even during their walk-around inspection of the plane and their preflight checks in the cockpit.

"During the preflight checks they were operating the plane," said Chronic, who has been with America West for 4 1/2 years and has worked as a commercial pilot for 33 years.

Last week, Miami-Dade Sgt. Steven Leibowitz said he tested both pilots after their plane was ordered back to its gate before it could take off for Phoenix on July 1, 2002.

He said he gave them the test between 11:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Earlier testimony showed the pilots left a bar in the trendy Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami at about 4:40 a.m. after a night of drinking.

Leibowitz said he judged the alcohol level for both to be at 0.10. Florida's legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Tuesday, Leibowitz was asked by the defense why the pilots were not handcuffed after the tests.

"They weren't handcuffed because people didn't need to see two pilots walking the steep stairs handcuffed," Leibowitz said. "It was more important for public safety that they not see two pilots in handcuffs."...



Posted on Thu, Jun. 02, 2005

Officer: Pilot admitted to drinking


The Associated Press

A police officer testified Wednesday that a pilot accused of being drunk while operating an America West passenger jet told him during a breath test that he had had ''too many'' drinks the night before the flight to Phoenix was to take off.

Pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot and co-defendant Christopher Hughes were polite and cooperative but had reddened faces and bloodshot eyes during the test at Miami International Airport on July 1, 2002, said Miami-Dade County Police Officer Harold Ruffner.

And, contradicting a defense strategy, Ruffner said both pilots acknowledged that they were ''operating'' the Airbus, which was ordered back to the terminal after being towed part of the way out so it could get into position for take off.

Defense attorneys have argued in nine days of testimony that Cloyd and Hughes were not impaired and that the pilots were not operating the plane anyway because the steering was disengaged from the cockpit as it was being tugged toward or away from the runway.

The pilots were arrested after a DUI vision test by another officer, and Ruffner testified that they were taken to a nearby police station where he administered the breath test. Cloyd breathed 0.091 and 0.090 during his, and Hughes 0.084 and 0.081 on his, Ruffner said. Florida's legal limit for DUI is 0.08.

Ruffner said he asked Cloyd how many drinks he had consumed.

''He said he had too many,'' Ruffner said, noting that the smell of alcohol was ``present and detectable.''

Ruffner said Hughes responded ''many'' to the consumption question, and both pilots then acknowledged they were operating the plane as it was being towed...

...Defense attorney Daniel Foodman presented evidence showing that the machine used for the breath test was eight years old and he called it ''outdated.'' Ruffner acknowledged that there have been improvements in breath test technology since the machine was put in use but said there was no reason to question it.

Ruffner also testified that neither Cloyd nor Hughes had slurred speech or showed problems walking or standing.

Earlier Wednesday, the defense hammered away at Capt. Joseph Chronic, vice president for flight operations for America West, on the issue of whether the pilots were actually operating the plane.

For the second day, Chronic testified that the pilots were technically operating the plane even if it was still on the ground and being towed to the runway. He said pilots assume operational control during their preflight checks.

But on cross examination he did acknowledge that the pilots were not in ''physical control'' of the plane when it was being towed.

''The tug driver would be steering the airplane at that point,'' Chronic said.

Prosecutor Armando Hernandez questioned Chronic again, and Chronic testified that the ''physical act of the captain releasing the parking brake is operating'' the aircraft and the fact that it was being towed was ``irrelevant.''

''The intent was to fly from Miami to Phoenix,'' Chronic said...


8th Jun 2005, 00:45
Jury deliberations begin in Miami drinking trial of America West pilots

By Curt Anderson
June 7, 2005

Jurors in the trial of two America West pilots accused of being drunk in the cockpit began deliberations Tuesday after a prosecutor called the defendants "stumbling, fumbling" drunks who put passengers in grave danger.

"Last call to these two defendants meant one more round at 4:15 in the morning, even though they had a flight," said Assistant State Attorney Deisy Rodriguez.

She said pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes "demonstrated careless and reckless behavior by getting into that cockpit under the influence of alcohol."

Defense lawyers said testimony showed neither pilot was visibly intoxicated and that they were not in control of the aircraft when airport police ordered it back to the terminal because it was being pushed by a tug at the time.

"Flight doesn't occur until the plane begins to move under it's own power," said Daniel Foodman, Cloyd's attorney. "Nobody was in danger, nobody testified Mr. Cloyd did anything wrong in that cockpit."

After about two hours of deliberation, the six-man jury recessed until Wednesday morning.

Cloyd of Peoria, Ariz., and Hughes of Leander, Texas, face up to five years in state prison if convicted of operating an aircraft while intoxicated, although under sentencing guidelines they would probably get lighter sentences...

...Neither pilot testified. Hughes' attorney, James Rubin, argued that prosecutors had not proven their case and that, even if the pilots had been drinking the night before, they exhibited no signs of drunkenness.

"There was no untoward sign of impairment," Rubin said in closing arguments. "They appeared to be acting in a normal fashion."

Central to the defense is whether the two pilots were legally operating the Airbus 319 jetliner. Rubin urged jurors to remember that the plane was being towed by a tug at the time, with its main engines off and neither pilot able to steer.

Rodriguez, however, cited testimony that both pilots had performed flight checks for 30 minutes before the jet was pushed away from the airport gate. When questioned by police on the day of their arrest, she said both pilots answered "yes" when asked if they had been operating an aircraft.

"They confessed, and they indicated that absolutely they were operating that aircraft," Rodriguez said.

At one point, Rodriguez placed more than a dozen beer mugs on a courtroom table, including seven 34-ounce servings, to show jurors how much the pilots consumed.

"They can't hide that beer," she said.

Cloyd and Hughes were both fired by America West after their arrests and have lost their commercial pilots' licenses.

The state trial came after a lengthy legal battle over jurisdiction. A federal judge agreed with the pilots' claim that they could not be prosecuted under Florida law unless there was loss of life, injury or damage, but that ruling was reversed on appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Flight Safety
8th Jun 2005, 17:37
I just heard they were both found guilty. :(

Court TV link (http://www.courttv.com/home_news/index.html)

8th Jun 2005, 18:18
The jury convened about six hours and came back with a guilty verdict for the two Pilots that were with America west.
The judge immediately revoked their bail and both men were taken into custody. Sentencing is July 20, 2005.

8th Jun 2005, 18:36
Dumb question maybe, but i'll ask it......

if these two had made it through the pushback and out to the runway......what in your professional opinion would have been the result?

(please spare me the smart comments folks as my replies have already had me banned before and i just can't resist answering back so please help me to help myself!)

Was there a reasonable chance of an uneventful flight, or would they definitely have crashed the airplane?

Flying Lawyer
8th Jun 2005, 19:00
No, they would not "definitely have crashed the airplane".

To put things in perspective:
Florida's legal breath alcohol limit is 0.08
Cloyd's breath-test reading was 0.091 and Hughes 0.084.
Only fractionally over the legal limit - and obviously not 'drunk' in the ordinary meaning of the word.

Professional pilots here are far better qualified than me to comment upon whether there's a "reasonable chance of an uneventful flight." FWIW, I think there's an extremely good chance the flight would have been uneventful.

That, of course, isn't the point. Impairment isn't the test in America and, since last year, is no longer the only test in the UK.
I think, without looking it up, that the FAA maximum for pilots is 0.04. The trial proceeded on the state standard, not the FAR standard, because the case was tried in a state, not Federal, court.


Interesting that this is yet another example of everything stemming from a disagreement with a security man.
On this occasion, it was about whether one of the pilots should be allowed to take his coffee airside. It seems he didn't take well to being prevented from doing so and, although he eventually agreed to discard it, a 'suspected alcohol' report was made to the police. The rest, as they say, is history. The only remaining question is how long the inevitable prison sentences will be.

16 blades
8th Jun 2005, 23:31
I cannot recall a SINGLE RECORDED INCIDENT in the entire history of commercial aviation where alcohol intoxication was cited as a factor. In other words, the proverbial three-fifths of ****-all would have happened had they been allowed to continue - unlike drink-driving, which accounts for hundreds of thousands of road deaths every year worldwide.

I am aware, however, that that is not the point, and they attempted to operate their aircraft in an unlawful state of 'intoxication', before the scaremongers start kicking off.


9th Jun 2005, 02:08
Someone already mentioned the Nortwest 727 crew that flew drunk from Fargo to Minneapolis. Uneventful flight, but they were drunker than the AWA guys. So, it is not an automatic accident when the crew is drunk.

I personally believe it is unforgivable to show up toasted to fly. Passengers need to respect us as a profession, but every time this things happen unrepairable harm is done.

I love beer, but I love flying more. It is not that hard of a decision to stay away from it when I am working.

As a side note, body size has little to do with how much you can drink. I have friends that are small that can drink my arse under the table.( I am 230 lbs and feel the effects of 3 beers)

Cheers, with responsibility.

9th Jun 2005, 07:54
I think 16 Blades needs to look through the FAA files wherein he will find fairly comprehensive reports in which Drink or Drugs are part of the attributable causes for accidents. Almost inevitably these were fatal accidents and the evidence was provided in the toxicology reports after post mortem examinations. It is true that most of these accidents involved smaller aircraft but the evidence is there.

Flying Lawyer
9th Jun 2005, 09:02
16 blades referred specifically to commercial aviation.
You say: "It is true that most of these (FAA) accidents involved smaller aircraft but the evidence is there."
What evidence do you say 'is there'?
What evidence do you say there is of alcohol consumption by professional pilots either causing or contributing to accidents in commercial aviation?


(For info)

American law is stricter than UK law in this area:

FAR 91.17 Alcohol or Drugs
No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft -
(1) within eight hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
(2) while under the influence of alcohol;
(3) while using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety;
(4) while having 0.04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood.

Any one of those alternatives is sufficient to prove a violation.
eg If someone acts or attempts to act as a crew member within eight hours after consuming alcohol, even if not under the influence of alcohol, and even if their blood alcohol level is zero, at the time.


9th Jun 2005, 10:45

The FAA records show that between 1996 and 2001 there were 33 accidents, mostly fatal, which could be attributed to Alcohol consumption. Principally those accidents heavily involved risk taking or errors of judgement. Most were fatal.

I acknowledge that all the aircraft involved were small. The statistics didn't indicate how many of the people involved were "off duty" airline pilots.

I suggest people should read the paper by Ken Ibold on AVweb particulary the figures in relation which show that AIRLINE pilots who were involved in 13 pilot-error accidents had DWI convictions.

Because you a professional might reduce your chances of having an accident but would you apply the same logic to Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers?

Flying Lawyer
9th Jun 2005, 11:51

"33 .....which could be attributed to Alcohol consumption."
That's ambiguous. Does it mean they were actually attributed to alcohol consumption, or that the pilots had traces of alcohol in their bloodstreams so there was a possibility alcohol consumption was a factor?
33 out of how many accidents in that five year period?

"I acknowledge that all the aircraft involved were small."
I thought that might be the case.

"The statistics didn't indicate how many of the people involved were "off duty" airline pilots."
Even if some of them were, it doesn't detract from the distinction between private pilots in GA and professional pilots in commercial aviation.

"AIRLINE pilots who were involved in 13 pilot-error accidents had DWI convictions."
But no suggestion they had alcohol in their bodies at the time of they made the error.
I'm not convinced DWI convictions are relevant, but assuming for the sake of argument that they are -
13 out of how many pilot-error accidents?

"Because you a professional might reduce your chances of having an accident ....... "
I didn't suggest it would.

What I (as someone outside the industry and merely working closely with it) find rather frustrating, and many professional pilots understandably find irritating, is the sweeping, highly emotive and wholly inaccurate comments made whenever the stupid (and illegal) behaviour of a pilot in a case such as this hits the press.

I'm not suggesting you went as far as that, but you did challenge 16 blades' assertion, which related specifically to commercial aviation, and you appear to be rather light on evidence to show he's wrong.

I guard against claiming there is no evidence of an accident in commercial aviation which has been found to have been caused. or contributed to, by alcohol consumption by professional pilots. However, people who suggest there is such evidence never seem to be able to come up with it. I'm only aware of one - and I've forgotten now which that was.

The fault ultimately lies with those pilots who generate adverse press coverage for the industry but we shouldn't forget that there is no evidence that the overwhelming majority of hundreds of thousands of airline pilots who fly millions of miles safely every year would even dream of drinking and flying.
Members of the public read this forum and IMHO, and with great respect, there's a real danger your comments might give them an entirely misleading impression about airline pilots and airline safety - especially if they click on your 'Profile'.


Spread Eagle
9th Jun 2005, 13:05
Here's an example:


Flying Lawyer
9th Jun 2005, 13:26
Thanks SE. That's the one I had in mind.


The evidence that the Captain was under the influence of alcohol was overwhelming, from toxicology reports and descriptions of his behaviour immediately before flying.

That accident was in January 1977 - more than 28 years ago.
Any advance?
Remember we're talking about commercial aviation which, to most members of the public, means airlines.

9th Jun 2005, 14:22
Here's a link to a video of the verdict announcement, the prosecutors' remarks and the inevitable perp walk in handcuffs:


You may have to temporarily enable pop-ups to view this on Windows XP SP2.

9th Jun 2005, 15:49
Flying Lawyer:

Thanks for reading my profile. You will recognise thereby that I have fairly extensive experience of those who have imbibed freely plus some knowledge of aviation. I also undertook the CAA Crashed Aircraft Course because if it happened at Liverpool Airport it was going to be my problem.

During the course of all this I had fairly frequent contact with the Senior RAF Pathologist at that time. Interesting to reflect his view that the old RAF maxim of 8 hours from Bottle to Throttle was wrong. In his view it should be 24 hours. There was a man who had greater experience than any of us when dealing with these matters.

Flying Lawyer
9th Jun 2005, 16:34

I don't doubt that a previous occupation must have provided you with "fairly extensive experience of those who have imbibed freely" but I don't see where that experience assists on the topic being discussed: Accidents in commercial aviation caused, or contributed to, by a pilot having consumed alcohol.
Nor do I see how the other experience you mention assists.
Either there's evidence to support your assertion, or there isn't. If there is, what is it?

I don't doubt that the Senior RAF Pathologist was very experienced, but pathologists aren't experts in the effects of alcohol. That's a toxicologist's sphere of expertise.
That aside, did he suggest the RAF had a problem with their pilots crashing because of the effects of alcohol?

I agree, without any medical expertise, that the old '8 hour' maxim is both unreliable and risky. It depends upon so many factors, not least the quantity consumed before that period. It may well have been a reasonable guideline for most people under the old UK law, but it isn't under the new offence introduced in the UK last year.

This is all very interesting, and has been discussed at length in previous 'alcohol' threads here, but how does it help support your assertion? Where's the evidence of accidents in commercial aviation being caused, or contributed to, by professional pilots having consumed alcohol?
So far, we've come up with just one example - 28+ years ago.

Will you join me in reassuring any members of the public or journos who read this thread that. despite the headline hitting high profile prosecutions, the statistics show they have no reason to be frightened that their airliner might crash because the pilot(s) is/are under the influence of alcohol?

9th Jun 2005, 17:05
Sammy Pilot,

One of the things the FAA tried to do was require Alcohol testing along with Drug testing for pilots and others in safety related functions. The interesting thing to note is it was to be done routinely as part of the aviation medical exam and not on a random basis at the airport immediately before work activities were begun.

My view is it takes a real Nimrod to show up for a flight physical reeking of drink....although that did happen in one sunny clime I worked in a few years ago. The crucial test for all of these measures is whether it is a bureaucratical burden or does in fact effectively work towards improving safety.

I submit drug and alcohol testing at flight physical time is not the time to be doing it but rather on the ramp prior to touching the aircraft is the time.

Old King Coal
9th Jun 2005, 17:52
Sammypilot, I have several mates who are UK Traffic Cops and, to man (& woman), they have regularly had to 'call in sick' the morning after a 'heavy session’.... indeed it was only a few days ago that one of these very close friends breathalysed himself (at 4am, in his bathroom, in uniform) prior to going on duty, wherein (fortunately for all of us) he thought better of it and made the call – and, as he told me later, he wasn't just a little bit over the limit ( read ‘loads’) !

Now maybe it’s just the company I keep, but most coppers I know ‘like drink’ ( it seems to go with the job,…. sound familiar ?! ) and it’s usually several bloody great big ones, or two, or even three or more… ( and the same to goes for few Judges I know too ) !

So, Sammypilot, with all due respect, you’re coming across as sanctimonious!

Ps. FWIW, work have called me (whilst I’ve been typing this) to ask if I could help them out with a rescue sub-charter ( Nb. this is 35 minutes after I’ve just completed a 6 hour standby duty). However (and unfortunately) I had, by that moment in time, imbibed a single rather fine glass of Chardonnay (seeing that as I was no longer on duty and sitting in my sunny garden with a wireless enabled laptop)…. and accordingly whilst I’d love to have helped them out I’ve had to decline ( veritably, sh!t happens, doesn’t it ?! … just feel sorry for the stranded pax ).

Ah well, I must go now and wrap myself in some cotton wool lest I catch a cold or some’at......

9th Jun 2005, 19:29

I am, of course, happy to endorse what you say. All my friends within the flying community, both commercial and private pilots are commendably responsible. Noticeably more so in recent years because they recognise that times have changed.

I think Old King Cole should point this out to his friends still serving Her Majesty.

Now watch some clown prove us all wrong............

9th Jun 2005, 19:59

Quit dodging.
It ain't about your friends, it's about independant facts

Look again at what 16B said and what you responded.

Somebody's come up with only one airline accident through drink and that was near 30 years ago.
Even if there was a crash tomorrow through drink it ain't gonna make a difference to the facts except by about 0.000000000001%

Hows about admitting 16B was 99.9999999% right and you got it wrong?


16 blades
9th Jun 2005, 20:58
Even that incident deserves some deeper scrutiny. I took the time to look through the report and discovered some interesting points.

- Alcohol intoxication wasn't the only major factor at play. It appears that the aircraft stalled at some 21kts+ higher than its expected stall speed for its calculated AUW, in prevalent airframe icing conditions, with tanks full of very cold fuel. It would appear that airframe icing may well have caused the situation to develop in the first place - the subsequent mishandling of the developing stall could be seen as an aggravating, rather than a causal factor (although the report does have this the other way round). What seems obvious is that the crew were not expecting the ac to stall at that speed - note the complete lack of action by the (stone cold sober) co-pilot - it normally takes an alert person some 2-3 seconds to recognise, acknowledge, and act upon an unexpected emergency situation. The aircraft impacted the ground only 1.2 seconds after the stall warning sounded, and only 3-4 seconds after the first evidence of airframe buffet were recorded on the CVR. Even the sober Co-pilot did not have time to intervene. It was also reported that the aircraft attained a higher-than-usual nose attitude after rotate, such that approx 15deg nose up was recorded at around V2. It was suggested that this is higher than normal for a DC-8 at that weight and in that config, but it hardly seems like an extreme attitude to me, nor gross mishandling - I have little knowledge of DC-8 ops so anybody who knows better, feel free to correct me.

- It also appears, both from (independent) witness statements and the toxicology analysis that this Captain wasn't merely 'over the limit' - he was utterly sh!tfaced. Quite why he was allowed, by either ground staff OR his crew, anywhere near his ac is beyond me. At the VERY VERY LEAST the words "Co-pilot - your leg!" should have been uttered. Use of the old 'hotel-induced food poisoning' excuse to cry off sick would have been better.

- This wasn't a passenger flight, it was cargo. So perhaps I shall modify my original comment to read:
I cannot recall a SINGLE RECORDED INCIDENT in the entire history of commercial passenger aviation where alcohol intoxication was cited as a factor.
...in order to address the 0.00000001% inaccuracy in that comment.

What is clear when all the facts are considered is that this was not a clear cut case of 'Pilot over the limit crashes 'plane' - it remains, to my and others knowledge, the SOLE incident of it's kind, and is a FAIRLY EXTREME one at that. When all this is considered, you may be able to understand how many experienced pilots make the comments they do on threads of this nature.

It is also worth noting that the UK drink-fly limits are almost 1 tenth of the drink-drive limits. So, driver over the limit, or pilot over the limit? I know which one I'd rather travel with.


Edited to make clear: I do not condone flying whilst under the influence of alcohol - I'm sure virtually every proffesional pilot wouldn't. I CONDEMN the sensationalist press cover that such 'incidents' normally attract.

10th Jun 2005, 07:38
A few more accidents where alcohol/drug intoxication may have been a contributing factor:


12th Jun 2005, 06:34

as forrest said: stupid is that stupid does.

thank you very much, gentlemen, for doing so much for our public image. hope you get to go to the kind of jail where bubba gets a backside ride anytime he feels like it:ok:

12th Jun 2005, 07:45
We seem to have arrived at a point where pilots can not only loose their jobs but also spend time "inside", while not having the means to assess their fitness to fly.

At the present time I could enjoy a shared bottle of wine with my wife in the evening then more than 8 hrs later find my self over the 0.004 limit.

Has the time now come for either pilots to become teetotal, or to carry a proper calibrated breathalyser as part of their equipment and test themselves prior to leaving home or hotel?

16 blades
12th Jun 2005, 09:13
Almost all of the incidents described in the preceding links involve the use of illegal drugs - some of which were alleged to have been used IN FLIGHT!!!! 1 or 2 of them involve alcohol, in collusion with some other general stupidity or external factor. None of the 'reports' mentioned offer any evidence of how determnations were madde of blood alcohol / drugs content were measured. The word 'probably' is used an awful lot.

I put it to you that my (modified) statement still stands.


16th Jun 2005, 20:11
2 drunken pilots to remain jailed in Miami until next month's sentencing


Associated Press
Posted June 16 2005, 11:32 AM EDT

MIAMI -- Two fired America West pilots convicted of operating a jetliner while drunk will remain in jail until they are sentenced next month after they were denied bail Thursday.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David Young had an edgy tone as he addressed pilot Thomas Cloyd, 47, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 44, and ordered them held at least another five weeks. They went to jail right after the verdicts were read last week after being free on bail for nearly three years while they contested the charges.

They were convicted of operating an aircraft while drunk after evidence showed they had spent the night in a bar drinking just hours before their scheduled July 2002 flight from Miami International Airport to Phoenix. It was stopped before it could takeoff after screeners noted alcohol on their breaths.

Hughes' wife Debbie told the judge Thursday that she had consulted a psychiatrist about how best to prepare their two children for the possibility of their father serving the maximum five-year prison term.

``I have to try and help them deal with this,'' she said, asking for her husband's release to have his help as well. ``Our children are our first priority.''

Prosecutor Deisy Rodriguez noted the pilots were convicted of ``a very serious and a very dangerous felony in which they put many lives at risk.'' Fellow prosecutor Hillah Katz argued that they posed an unusual risk of disappearing because they have the connections to get to planes and can fly them as well.

The judge called it ``horrible'' and ``sad'' that Hughes cared more about his time in the bar than he cared about his children and their future. Young, whose career on the bench exposed him to many drunken-driving cases, sternly added he didn't want to hear any more about the crime being a nonviolent offense.

Attorneys on both sides had no comment leaving court.

Earlier, Hughes' attorney James Rubin said he has visited his client in jail and ``he's not doing too well.''

Young said he would take half a day to hear sentencing arguments July 20 but does not plan to rule until the next day. The pilots can ask to be freed on bail again after sentencing based on their plans to appeal.

Both pilots surrendered their passports, were stripped of their commercial licenses and were barred from flying private planes while on bail...

...Cloyd of Peoria, Ariz., and Hughes of Leander, Texas, wore red jail jumpsuits to court for the first time to attend the hearing. They sat in a jury box with other jailed defendants long after their 15-minute hearing was over.


16th Jun 2005, 22:21
16 Blades


"...this Captain wasn't merely 'over the limit' - he was utterly sh!tfaced. Quite why he was allowed, by either ground staff OR his crew, anywhere near his ac is beyond me."

Interesting, after the castigation given to anyone who dare suggest that any pilot concerned in any of the of the incidents leading to a conviction of drinking and flying, had had a drink!
It occurs to me that there is a wide difference of opinon here, from Police to lawyers to pilots. Police have to enforce the legislation it's the lawyers job to either convict or defend and the pilots natural reaction to defend come hell or high water.

The one thing missing is the medical evidence. ie What does the medical profession, or the experts from, for instance the RAF Aviation Medicine Centre think?

Ok, so one commercial aviation accident involving alcohol (possibly), that anyone can find. One is too many. There are only one of many types of air accident, because after the cause was identified things were done to try to prevent it happening again.

The legislation, in the UK probably is aimed more at GA pilots. But how do you apply law to one group of pilots and exempt another from it? It would be like saying that because a bus driver is a professional driver he shouldn't be subject to the same drink/drive law as everyone else who drives.

The same priciple applies to driving and drinking and accidents. Most people arrested for drink/drive have not had an accident, maybe committed a minor traffic offence or just come to the notice of police, usualy because it's late at night. They probably wouldn't have had an accident, are often referred to by the press as drunk when they are far from it. But no one bats an eyelid about that.

Old King Cole....Several holes in what you say...No police officer I know keeps his uniform at home. Nor does any any I know keep a breath test kit there either (most are too tight fisted to buy one) and in any event most of them are bright enough to know when they are close to the limit. Although, I don't doubt (ok, I know full well) that police officers go sick because they have had too much to drink. In exactly the same way as anyone sensible does in any organisation where drink may effect they way they carry out their job.

16th Jun 2005, 22:43

If you read the report, you'll see there was lots of independent evidence that the Captain in that incident wasn't merely over the legal lmit but was indeed as described by 16B.

That doesn't apply to the other cases that have been discussed here.

I don't understand your 'castigation' point. As far as I recall, in only two cases discussed here was it said that the pilots hadn't been drinking.
In one case, the pilot who tested positive denied he'd been drinking and said his drink had been spiked following a dispute at the hotel.
In that Manchester nonsense where some PC saw fit to breath-test both pilots after a passenger complained about a 'hard landing', both pilots tested negative.

16th Jun 2005, 22:49
No, it doesn't apply, and I didn't suggest it did. What I said was it's hardly suprising, given the level of abuse leveled at anyone that dare suggest that a pilot may have been drink before flying.

By doing that you will deter anyone from saying anything about a pilot that obviously is drunk.

In response to your additional bit. You have a short memory. Every case where a pilot has been tested has been followed by abuse, insult and inuendo about motive against the person informing. Irrespective of the result of that test.

Go back and look at the thread concerning the Virgin capt in the US. The Finnair at Man and the Heathrow one......

Yes, a PC 'saw fit' to test the crew at Man. Unless you were there and have a full knowladge of police powers, then you have no idea why it was done. It was a negitive test. So what's your point? They were exonarated, there is no doubt, no one can, weeks after the event, claim that they had been drinking. No one else in the world gave a toss, the only fuss made was on here....

18th Jun 2005, 03:19
The TYCO boss and his CFO got convicted of stealing 25 million USD or some such obscene amount....22 of 23 felony counts or so....and they are not being remanded to jail until the sentencing hearing in August.

The two pilots in this case were immediately chunked into the slammer when convicted.....seems they were considered a flight risk! What a choice of wording by the Judge I would say.

Talk about justice? What an insult to the ordinary working man!

18th Jun 2005, 20:59
Proves that even judges think pilots are special

Cyclic Hotline
21st Jul 2005, 23:16
Miami judge sentences drunk pilot to 5 years in prison, second to 2-1/2 years

By John Pain
The Associated Press
Posted July 21 2005, 6:09 PM EDT

MIAMI -- A judge Thursday sent two fired America West pilots to prison for operating a jetliner when drunk, despite pleas for leniency from their attorneys and families because no one was injured on the plane three years ago and both men have since sought treatment for alcoholism.

Pilot Thomas Cloyd, 47, of Peoria, Ariz., was sentenced to the maximum penalty of five years in prison. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David Young said he had no sympathy for Cloyd, who was on probation for an alcohol-related arrest months before the July 2002 flight with 117 passengers was stopped as it taxied to take off from Miami International Airport. Prosecutors had recommended four years in prison.

Co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 44, of Leander, Texas, was ordered to 2½ years in prison, 1½ years of community control and a year of probation. He was also sentenced to community service and fined $5,000. He was also barred from operating an aircraft for five years. The judge said Hughes has tried to rehabilitate himself, and that played a role in his sentence below the prosecutors' recommendation of three years.

But the judge couldn't hide his disdain for either of them: ``What were you thinking of?'' Hughes nodded his head after his sentence was read, and let out a heavy sigh. Cloyd showed no emotion, but the two chatted while sitting handcuffed in the jury box. It was unclear if they planned to appeal. Cloyd attorney Daniel Foodman and Hughes attorney James K. Rubin both refused comment after the sentence.

Hughes' family declined to comment while leaving the courthouse. When reporters asked Cloyd's wife, Debbie, what she thought of the verdict, she would only say: ``Haven't you people had enough?''

Cloyd and Hughes were convicted June 8. Testimony showed that they ran up a $122 tab and split seven 34-ounce glasses of beer and seven smaller beers over a roughly six-hour period at a popular Coconut Grove sports bar. At dinner before that, they split a bottle of wine and Cloyd drank a martini, prosecutors told the jury.

They were at the sports bar until 4:40 a.m. with their flight scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. Federal rules require no alcohol be consumed at least eight hours before a flight. The flight was stopped by police after screeners noted alcohol on their breaths.

Tested hours later, their blood-alcohol levels were above Florida's 0.08 percent legal limit for drunken driving, which includes aircraft, experts said at trial. The levels were probably much higher when they were in the cockpit, the experts said.

The pilots' attorneys unsuccessfully argued at trial that they weren't drunk. The also argued they weren't in control of their Airbus 319 because it was being towed by a tug when police in cruisers with flashing lights stopped them and ordered the jet back to the gate.

At the sentencing hearing, the pilots' attorneys said their clients' lives were in shambles because they had lost their licenses to fly.

Under questioning by Foodman, Cloyd's mother, Margaret Cloyd, said her son was having marital problems before his arrest and was still distraught by the death of his father in a plane crash years earlier. She pleaded with the judge to spare her son in jail time so he could counsel other pilots to not make the same mistake he did.

Hughes' brother and wife spoke on his behalf, saying that his two young children needed him. Hughes cried through much of their testimony.

Prosecutor Hillah Katz called the sentences just and said it sent a message that anyone operating any type of vehicle should never do so while drunk.

She said it was ``an insult'' that the pilots argued that they were never operating the aircraft because it was being towed. At the hearing, she read letters from passengers who recounted being scared when the flight was abruptly stopped and boarded by police officers and dogs. One woman wrote that she missed her daughter's wedding because the plane was stopped.

21st Jul 2005, 23:35
Cloyd, who was on probation for an alcohol-related arrest months before the July 2002 flight with 117 passengers was stopped as it taxied to take off

Why was he still flying at that point? As a physician, I would already have been up in front of the General Medical Council and restrictions and supervision orders placed on my medical practice. If the offence was bad enough, I could have been struck off. In fact, if I was on probation I may well have been.


Hand Solo
21st Jul 2005, 23:47
Why was he still flying at that point? As a physician, I would already have been up in front of the General Medical Council and restrictions and supervision orders placed on my medical practice

Yeah, just like they caught Harold Shipman after his drug problems.

Flying Lawyer
22nd Jul 2005, 00:29

Are you suggesting that a physician (doctor? :confused: ) who, for example, is convicted of driving with excess alcohol wouldn't be allowed to practise? Or allowed to practise only under supervision?
I used to prosecute doctors before the GMC Disciplinary Committee but haven't done so in recent years. If you're right, things must have changed a great deal since I did.


The sentences seem way over the top to me. That said, having read some of the rather extreme comments made by the judge at earlier hearings, I'm not surprised.

As for the hysterical prosecutor ................ :rolleyes:

22nd Jul 2005, 01:27
I'm sure these guys would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist with a good lawyer in some countries but operating an airliner while drunk is considered a serious offense in the U.S. these days.

As is now the custom, these geniuses loudly proclaimed their innocence and then jumped bail to check themselves into rehab in Arizona in the days after the arrests. I'm sure they are sorry they got caught and their personal tragedy is undeniable.

I think sober pilots is not too much for the flying public to ask for even in these days of lowered expectations in air travel.

Flying Lawyer
22nd Jul 2005, 06:53
"I'm sure these guys would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist with a good lawyer in some countries" Which countries?
Not the UK.
There have been very few excess alcohol cases but each has resulted in a prison sentence.

So you don't think even the 5 year sentence was excessive?
(Nothing in your post suggests you do.)
Even though there was no incident or accident?
Even though no-one was injured?

FL (Member of "the flying public.")

22nd Jul 2005, 07:21
FL, should we be punishing the act or its consequences? What they did made an accident much more likely. Lucky for them and the passengers they were stopped before they had any real chance of causing one. But why should they get a break just because the (much maligned) security screener was on his/her toes?

Flying Lawyer
22nd Jul 2005, 07:35
Very interesting question. One which gives rise to much debate in discussions about sentencing policy, and to which there's no easy answer.

Should a driver with excess alcohol and a driver with excess alcohol who injures someone receive the same punishment?
Should the punishment for dangerous driving and the punishment for causing death by dangerous driving be the same?
The 'criminality' is the same regardless of whether, by chance, injury or death results.
However, punishments where there is death or injury are always higher. (In the UK - I don't know about America.)

NB: I wasn't suggesting they should 'get a break' in the sense of escaping punishment, merely that the sentences in this case are too harsh IMHO.

22nd Jul 2005, 08:50

I don't say you wouldn't necessarily be allowed to practise, but you would be up in front of the GMC for an alcohol-related offence of any kind and they may impose restrictions upon your practice. If you are severely alcoholic they may suspend your registration until you get it sorted.

Also, FL, I don't think this sentence is excessive. They were way over the drink-driving limit at the time of arrest. It is banal to even restate that you need to be a lot sharper to fly an aircraft than drive a car. They would quite likely have crashed and killed everyone. They failed immeasurably in their duty of care to their passengers and the judiciary needs to send a clear message to the pilot community that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. From the deterrence point of view alone, I think this sentence is justified and I am no hang 'em and shoot 'em fellow under normal circumstances.

Yeah, just like they caught Harold Shipman after his drug problems.

Shipman's drug problems were in the 70s. The UK medical world has changed immeasurably since then, not least thanks to Shipman himself and the Bristol heart surgery scandal.

I remain amazed that someone on probation for an alcohol-related offence was allowed to keep their medical certificate and continue flying commercially. That's what the FAA needs to look at.

I have a good friend who was an alcoholic in the early 90s, dry for years now, but simply cannot get a UK Class 1. I sympathise with him, but I am not sure I completely disagree with the CAA on this. I think a history of serious alcoholism and repeated recidivism represent unarguable grounds for denial of a medical certificate.


Farmer 1
22nd Jul 2005, 08:56
I like to think that if they had taken off, and crashed, and people had been killed, and if the crew had survived, then their sentences would have been much higher. Or am I being naive?

It seems to me they deliberately abused the system, then came up with a pathetic excuse to try to get away with it. I know it is easy for me to say at this great distance, but I have no sympathy for them whatever. If you set out to flout the rules, then you deserve all you get.

22nd Jul 2005, 09:08
One question about the sentencing thing, getting a heavier sentence if injury is caused, isn't this often due to a different offence having been committed. For instance 'causing death by dangerous driving' is a different charge (and more serious offence) to a simple 'dangerous driving'. And in the case of the pilots if they had crashed due to the excess alcohol, killing someone in the process, I would assume that they would then face murder, or at least manslaughter, charges in addition to the 'over the limit' charges?

(And I definitely don't know if there is a diferent charge for causing injury while drunk driving to simply being over the limit).

22nd Jul 2005, 09:41
MadsDad, yes, but that's the point. I get in my car drunk, drive home weaving all over the road, but luckily nobody's coming the other way so I don't kill anyone. Someone else gets in his car drunk, drives home weaving all over the road, some innocent coming the other way gets killed. Why am I less guilty than the guy who didn't get lucky? We did the same thing.

22nd Jul 2005, 10:04
Beanbag, you are correct in theory at least. Both are equally guilty and should logically suffer the same consequences. The problem is that when someone is hurt logic tends to go out of the window a bit and the temptation is definitely to apply a harsher punishment. (The thought also occurs that if all drink drivers were sentenced to gaol we would need the Isle of Wight as a prison colony. If you punish some more harshly it allows for some specific examples (this is what COULD happen to you) and this gives some sort of selection process).

The other thing is that if there are two drivers, both weaving all over the road, but one has to drive a mile to get home, the other 5 miles. Should these two receive the same sentence? Personal inclination is that they are equally culpable and both receive the same punishment but there is a case that the one who has further to drive should get a more severe sentence since there will be more chance of him meeting someone else on the road.

My name is not Solomon and I gon't have to make the decision thank goodness.