View Full Version : Sanford / Britannia FO Booze Bust

Rusty A300
15th Oct 2002, 08:49
During a routine FAA check of a Britannia Airways aircraft and crew at Sanford Orlando on Friday 11th October 2002, the inspector found a little more than he was hoping for. Whilst conducting the license inspections with the flightdeck crew, he smelled alcohol on the FO's breath. The rapport was friendly and jovial at the time and the FAA man suggested a breath test, which the FO agreed to quite happily; obviously thinking that he was okay.

Anyway, after he failed the test, the flight was delayed 24 hours, he was sent back to the hotel to recover, and the flight departed the next day. Whether or not he operated, I don't know? What is surprising however is that nobody has mentioned it here until now?

And yes; I was there.

15th Oct 2002, 09:15
I was in Orlando when this happened, and our agent at Sanford told us what he knew.

What we were told was that the FO was found to be completely in the clear, having shown a positive on the first test. I assume therefore that the original equipment used was faulty.

I imagine that if the incident had been reported here after the initial findings, the poor guy would have been hung out to dry (sic) even before it had been discovered that he was completely in the clear. The press may have got hold of it and we'd have all been the worse off.

I'm pleased it hasn't appeared here until now, because it would not have been good for the individual concerned, Britannia nor our industry.

What is good, is that an individual has been tested negative, which is a positive! Great news!

Brookmans Park
16th Oct 2002, 00:35
So who picks up the tab for the 24 hr delay, hotac ,subchartrers, etc???

16th Oct 2002, 01:35
So thanks to this thread we are about to have another 'pi$$ed pilots' bonanza in the press.


16th Oct 2002, 01:57

The guy was in the clear.

16th Oct 2002, 06:15
So thanks to this thread we are about to have another 'pi$$ed pilots' bonanza in the press.
Yeah... but only in the UK!

16th Oct 2002, 09:29
Why? Because the press love this sort of thing, that's why. Look, I'm new here, but it is a public forum and yes, I know that it is for 'rumours', but this guy was as you say, totally in the clear - but does that worry the sleazier side of the British press? Headlines saying 'PILOT SUSPECTED OF DRINKING' grab attention. A small line on page 5 column 3 saying 'the Sanford Police released the suspect when later tests proved negative' does nothing to diminish the initial impact of a story which would have been generated solely on this forum, is a complete non-event and should have been left un-posted IMHO. It probably won't come to anything because the papers sadly have other, graver matters to report on right now, but it strikes me that a bit of care is needed here sometimes, that's all.

edited for spelling

16th Oct 2002, 09:45
Do we know when the fo had his last drink?:cool:

16th Oct 2002, 11:09
If the guy was in the clear, then let it go. End of thread. Don't feed an empty baseless rumour.

18th Oct 2002, 07:42
As forecast above, this story has now hit that fountain of crusading independent journalism, "The Sun".

The Sun (http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2002481271,00.html)

I feel sorry for the pilot involved as the tone of the story is "guilty but unfortunately later proved innocent".

As "The Sun" also wants to hear from passengers who were on the flight, I do hope that Ppruners are not going to be tempted to phone them using false identities to tell them a complete load of tosh. They might end up printing some "stories" which would reveal to all that they'd rather print fiction than fact.


18th Oct 2002, 08:03
Bit off that the first breath test machine was so wildly inaccurate.

18th Oct 2002, 08:35
2 1/2 hours is a fair amount of time between tests. It is possible that the first one was in the ball park, but the delay between the two tests bought the reading within limits, whatever that is. This sort of thing happens often with alcohol tests of drivers. The second test is a requirement I think, and if the calibrated machine is a fair distance away, then you end up with the delays. Useful tip if anyone finds themselves in this situation. Waste as much time as possible getting to the second test.
Before all those who have never sinned jump on my back, I agree that none of us professionals should ever end up in this situation, I'm just sparing a thought for those among us who occasionally miscalculate.

18th Oct 2002, 11:10
Curmudgeon... if the Sun is so crap why do you err, buy it... or did you just happen to come over it... (they don't give 'em away AFAIK on flights so you can't use the 'Guardian Reader' excuse)

18th Oct 2002, 11:42
Well, I hate to say " I told you so" but ... I told you so. I hate this sort of unjustified muckraking.

Bally Heck
18th Oct 2002, 12:48

The authorities are capable of extrapolating the results of an alcohol test to give the alcohol level several hours prior to the test, as the rate at which the body metabolises alcohol is known.

If he was clear on the second test, he was clear!

As for the Sun article. It comes as no surprise to me that they make up quotes from such as "A Britannia insider" and do no research on duty hours. (or anything at all in fact)

18th Oct 2002, 13:54

"BRITANNIA INSIDER" what a lying bunch of pathetic nobodies.

KEEP page 3 ditch the rest.!!


and yes mr and mrs public they would have been out of hours!!

18th Oct 2002, 16:11

I generally have a quick look at the problems page in the Sun to start the day. Makes me feel delightfully abnormal. I'd recommend the internet edition - its free and you don't have to register.


Septimus Pyecroft
18th Oct 2002, 17:28
Don't know what the limit for pilots is, but with your standard intoximeter,breath is exposed to infra-red radiation at a wavelength of 3.2 microns at which ethanol absorbs the radiation in accordance to the Beer Lambert law..i.e, The absorbance is directly proportional to the concentration of ethanol. Strict precautions are taken to make sure that the machine is accurate and precise. To ensure this in addition to two breath tests,the machine is equilibrated twice with background air and twice with air containing an ethanol level of 35% (the legal limit for drivers).A built in compensation is made for the presence of propanone which can come from diabetics. I reckon that there might have been something wrong with the machine and if a blood test was subsequently taken this would have sorted out any discrepencies made by a machine. This is largely irrelevant but might clear up some mysteries about proceedure.
If he was clear second test....and blood test, he was clear....the bloke was innocent...double line....end of story!:pMachines can be wrong and there are back-ups. HE WAS CLEARED!!!!

19th Oct 2002, 09:05
Wonder if the FAA inspector is getting the bill for the N/Stop etc.:cool:

prang one
19th Oct 2002, 17:55
With reference to the Breath test .

If you are in a possition were you have had a drink refuse the on the spot breath machine and go to the local cop shop for the real machine which is the only result of any worth as proved by the unfortunate F/O.Thus not ending up with 2 results and a calculated time interval.

Septimus Pyecroft
19th Oct 2002, 18:07
Prang One:
If an on the spot breath test reveals positive, another is taken and if that is positive then blood samples are taken for further examination. 5ml of blood are taken and divided into two, one for the Forensic Science laboratory and the other for private analysis, if the subject wishes.
Gas chromatography is used to find the quantity of Ethanol present. (I won't go into the proceedure). In a modern lab the sample is run on two separate machines operated by two separate officers to obtain total coroboration.
Once again all this post is for general info on proceedures and has little to do with the original thread...The chap was cleared ....close it.:D

Bally Heck
22nd Oct 2002, 00:22
It is rumoured, that the esteemed leader of Britannia Airways has a desire to sue the (esteemed) FAA for the (rumoured) 300,000 cost of this spurious delay.

Go for it Kevin!!!!!!!!

22nd Oct 2002, 08:50
I wouldn't mind finding "The Sun" in the dock as well. Now that would be supporting your employees.

22nd Oct 2002, 09:55

Can you expand on that? 300K seems a lot, say 1k per pax. What elements go into this claim?

Bally Heck
22nd Oct 2002, 10:04
I must admit the 300,000 is a figure which I heard and didn't question. However, it's not just one load of passengers who are delayed, there are knock on effects. Plus the only way to recover a twelve hour delay quickly, if you have no spare aircraft is to sub-charter.

22nd Oct 2002, 22:21
In full support of Sky 9 Take the Sun on put them in the Dock, At least they should write an article stating that the F/O was in the Clear and that the Error was with the testing Equipment.

Come On K.H. Support your staff have a go at the Sun !!!!!!!