View Full Version : BA Pilot arrested in ARN ???

25th Jan 2003, 19:07
Just heard on the news that a BA pilot was arrested today in Stockholm, while attempting to fly actively to LON, apparently under the influence of alcohol. Anyone know anything ??

If this is true, I gather BA management would not be to happy........

25th Jan 2003, 19:30
According to swedish newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" (equivalent to The Times) , the pilot in question was supposed to fly at 0830 local time but was picked up by the airport police. Breath-test showed 0.2 promille. A blood test was also taken, and its result was reported to take a couple of days.

BA spokesman was quoted to say (freely translated) "we take this very seriously" and also that they were going to "gather as much info as possible".

Passangers had to wait for about three hours, until BA had a replacement pilot.
for those of you who read swedish:

25th Jan 2003, 21:31

BA pilot 'fails breath test at airport'

A British Airways pilot is facing the sack after allegedly being caught over the alcohol limit as he prepared to fly a passenger plane to London.

It is understood that the pilot was held by Swedish police after failing a breath test he was asked to take before the flight was due to leave from Arlanda airport near Stockholm.

A British Airways spokeswoman said the pilot, who has not been named, has been removed from flying duties while a full BA investigation was carried out, in addition to the inquiry by Swedish police.

"We are extremely concerned to hear of this alleged incident," the spokeswoman said.

She said BA had "very strict rules governing the use of alcohol" which amounted to a "zero tolerance" policy.

"It's a disciplinary offence for an employee to report for work impaired by alcohol and it is deemed to be gross misconduct, which can result in dismissal.

"A full investigation has been launched."

The spokeswoman said the pilot had been flown back to the UK, where he was "helping" with the investigation.

Story filed: 21:40 Saturday 25th January 2003

25th Jan 2003, 21:34
Pretty sure a 12 hour rule in Sweden and zero tolerance on any any in the blood stream. (As is Finland).

I have no sympathy for this, the rules are in bold black and white on BA's station briefing sheets, each crew member is given one on arrival - their is plently of time to read it on the long bus ride to the hotel.
......... is it really worth your job ?

25th Jan 2003, 22:01
I may be sticking my neck out a little here but could this level of alcohol be a result from drinking the night before or must it have been from the same day of the flight?

I am not too knowledgable about the blood alcohol levels so if someone could educate me a little?


25th Jan 2003, 22:23
Not judging whether hes guilty or not, just a general comment here..


25th Jan 2003, 22:30
I would say it's from the night before.. Seems a bit stiff to have a drink at 6:30 in the morning but who knows...

Yet another tragedy..

25th Jan 2003, 22:48
Just to give a perspective, if the reading was indeed 0.02, that compares with a UK driving limit of 0.08, and the common European limit of 0.05. I do not know the Swedish rules, but they are renowned for being very strict about alcohol.

So if this is true, a reading of 0.02 could very easily be from some time before.

25th Jan 2003, 23:17
But in the second post on this thread it quotes a level of .2, i.e. four times the UK limit:(

25th Jan 2003, 23:34
From the BBC :

A British Airways pilot has been grounded after allegedly failing a breath test as he was preparing to fly a planeload of passengers to London.
It is understood that the pilot, who has not been named, was held by Swedish police after being found over the alcohol limit just before the flight was due to leave from Arlanda airport near Stockholm.

The 79 passengers were told there were "technical difficulties" with the plane and were made to wait three hours for a new flight crew to be brought in.

The co-pilot was not able to fly the plane because he was helping police with their inquiries, although he has not been implicated.

It's a disciplinary offence for an employee to report for work impaired by alcohol

BA spokeswoman

BA insisted that the pilot, reportedly in his 50s and from the London area, had not been close to flying the plane.

"Any suggestion that the pilot was removed from the cockpit is simply untrue," the spokeswoman said.

She added that he has been removed from flying duties while a full investigation was carried out by the airline, in addition to the inquiry by Swedish police.

"We are extremely concerned to hear of this alleged incident," the spokeswoman said.


She said BA had "very strict rules governing the use of alcohol" which amounted to a "zero tolerance" policy.

"It's a disciplinary offence for an employee to report for work impaired by alcohol and it is deemed to be gross misconduct, which can result in dismissal."

The spokeswoman said the pilot had been flown back to the UK, where he was "helping" with the investigation.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the current law was that "you shall not present yourself for duty under the influence of alcohol or drugs".

The CAA said they had the power to demand that any pilot with a UK pilot's licence undergo a medical assessment if suspected of being under the influence and may face the removal of their licence.

25th Jan 2003, 23:51
BarryM : you could be right. Unfortunately the report appears to relate to a breath test, and the level to a blood concentration, so we shall have to await fuller reports. Reports ususlly refer to a percentage of alcohol in blood, but the report above says promille, which is ten times greater than percent, if I read it correctly.

So we shall see.

25th Jan 2003, 23:59
Just to clarify BM,

The breathtest showed 0.1 Mg/L, (or 0.2 "Promille" in the blood). I don´t know the unit you use in the UK, but in Sweden the (rather strict) limit for driving is just that, 0.2 promille alcohol. I do know the limit measured in Promille is 0.8 in UK(= 0.4 Mg/L). So it was not a very high level of acohol, but still, one wonders how some people think, or if they think at all.

26th Jan 2003, 02:57
U_R and Fenderbender - Yup, thanks for that, I see what you mean. Let's hope that the result of the blood test is in the pilots favour.

26th Jan 2003, 03:46
From www.people.co.uk :


A BRITISH Airways pilot was arrested yesterday on suspicion of being drunk at the controls of his plane.

He was breathalysed by Swedish police as he prepared to fly 79 passengers from Stockholm to London.

The pilot, in his 50s and from London, was held in the cockpit of the Airbus 320 after airport staff noticed a smell of booze.

A police spokeswoman said: "They asked him to blow into the breathalyser. At first he refused, then said Yes. It was positive."

The £100,000-a-year pilot is said to have admitted drinking the night before BA's 8.35am Flight 771.

A BA spokesman said: "We have very strict rules governing the use of alcohol and a zero tolerance policy. If the allegation is proved, it will result in dismissal."


And, in a somewhat related story about pilot impairment from The Guardian:

New hours could kill, say pilots

Andrew Clark, transport correspondent
Tuesday January 21, 2003
The Guardian

A European plan to harmonise the hours worked by airline pilots could put passengers' lives at risk, as exhausted crew struggle to stay awake in the cockpit, union leaders told the government yesterday.

The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) said that the proposal, backed by the European parliament, could add up to two hours to a pilot's working day. Balpa's chairman, Mervyn Gramshaw, said this would leave his members unable to behave in an "intellectually sensible" way. Their concentration levels would be equivalent to a blood-alcohol level above drink-drive limits.

Mr Gramshaw, a Britannia Airways pilot, said: "Lives are at risk and will be put at risk."...


26th Jan 2003, 07:56
This limit is common around Europe. There is anecdotal evidence that some individuals have a figure close to this as a background reading i.e no alcohol required. Also it is believed that certain diets can cause this limit to be reached. My company is thinking of providing access to test equipment in order to establish your residual levels. More research seems to be needed to check this as you only get one chance. Does anyone know more.

26th Jan 2003, 08:03
..... and just to think that Air France pilots used to ( and maybe still do ) get a little bottle of wine with their in-flight dinner. ;)

Now for all we know the pilot in question might just have used a mouthwash, e.g. I've just got the one from my bathroom cabinet ( i.e. Tesco's Extra Strength CoolMint ) and a glance at the ingredients reveals: Aqua, Alcohol (21% w/w), Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Benzoate, Aroma, Cetylpyridium Chloride, Sodium Saccharin, Sodium Fluoride (0.05% w/w), Benzoic Acid, CI42090, CI47005.

veritably an almost eye watering array of stuff, including alcohol ! :eek:

So one could well imagine that if I rinsed my mouth with it, and maybe even managed to mistakenly swallow some of it, then I too could likely register on a breath-test that's seemingly set so low.

Thus, and before we forget that great tradition of 'being innocent until PROVEN to be guilty', let's wait and see what comes of the blood test shall we ?

26th Jan 2003, 08:42
Unfortunately, the Taleban will have his death planned already. The big red book was changed post Channel 4 so that now ‘no residual alcohol’ is left in the bloodstream. The physiologists and biochemists have explained that this is in reality an unattainable level – even for the most evangelic apostles of the Prince of Darkness. But reality is not a state of mind enjoyed by soldiers of the Jihad. The rule was placed there to facilitate swift and decisive punishment, and they’re not interested in tiresome extenuating circumstances.

I hope that the blood tests show the individual to be innocent, I truly believe that the very great majority of Nigels are responsible, mature, and professional pilots. I take no pleasure whatsoever in seeing the name of this once great company being dragged through the mire by tawdry rags that I wouldn’t wipe my bum with.

I’ll take on the opposition anyday. It’s my management I can’t beat!

26th Jan 2003, 09:57
The new alcohol limit was set as the lowest level currently detectable with current technology as such it is a virtually negligible level of alcohol.Given the presence of naturally produced chemicals in the body which can test as alcohol in addition to certain foodstuffs and mouthwashes the potential for a miscarriage of justice is enormous.I suspect even a teetotaller could fall foul of this very low limit.I have for several years had a strict personal rule of no (not even moderate) alcohol consumption within 24 hours of duty, even so I have little faith that I might not be one day falsely accused.I purchased a cheap alcometer in the U.S. a few years ago as it is a subject I am very interested in ,the readings have the potential to be damning at very low levels even when no alcohol has been consumed.Be very careful colleagues there are forces out there at work whose very last concern is flight safety!!.Make sure your a paid up member of Balpa who I can assure you have a very realistic view of the potential problems of this very low limit.:(

26th Jan 2003, 09:57
I wonder what the Jorno's blood alcohol level is when they write some of this tosh. The printed "Mail on Sunday" was completely over the top, since toned down on its website. It is only a couple of months since a similar scare that was a very costly non event.

We are now in an invidious position where I can sit down for dinner with my wife and consume half a bottle of wine and finish it by 2100. Would anyone like to tell me what my blood alcohol level is when I report for work at 0600 because I haven’t a clue and I certainly would not be "drunk" in "journalese" and would have complied with the UK law.

Yet all the time the real story about the real danger to our passengers; fatigue due excessive roster disruption and long night duties doesn’t raise a murmur. If only someone could produce a fatigue test - "snore into this bag please".

26th Jan 2003, 10:05
Well said Sky 9 our occupation is being persecuted to the point where a normal moderate lifestyle is denied us ,false accusations can be readily made towards us yet the authorities seem willing to condone excessive duty periods which leave us fatigued to the equivalent of alcohol consumption well over the drink driving limits.Wake up world.!!!(And thank God for Balpa!!)

26th Jan 2003, 10:08
Readers of this thread might like to be reminded that what JAR-OPS 1 Subpart B prescribes is as follows:

JAR-OPS 1.085 (e) A crew member shall not:

(1) Consume alcohol less than 8 hours prior to the specified reporting time for flight duty or the commencement of standby;

(2) Commence a flight duty period with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.2 promille;

(3) Consume alcohol during the flight period or whilst on standby.

Of course, any pilot must comply with whatever is in his employer's operations manual, which may also specify that the pilot must comply with local regulations (if lower limitations are prescribed). However, it is is extremely unlikely that a UK air operator that holds an AOC based upon JAR-OPS 1 would specify anything less than 0.2 promille.

Hotel Charlie
26th Jan 2003, 10:16
HI All!

Lets get real. A 0.02 % alcohol blood level has nothing to do with beeing Drunk! The 0.00% is a level the politicians in scandinavia have made up so as to make the masses think that they are doing something about drunk driving accidents. It´s all BS. The guys that drove their car drunk (0.1% or greater) will still do it wheather the limit is 0.04 or 0.00%. The drunk guys are the ones causing the accidents not the 0.02% guys. There has acually been done research showing that the bloodalcohol level needs to be more than 0.08% to impare the individuals ability to operate complex machinery. The pilot has made a mistake not adhering to the strick although ludicris, swedish rules. But as far as beeing unsafe, come on get a grip! Hope he is not fired. He is probably a good guy. Never trust anyone who doesn´t take a drink!

26th Jan 2003, 10:19
Nugget 0.2 promille is an extremely low level very near to negligible are you really confident that you might not one day be falsely accused??.We are on the edge of detectable levels here nothing like drunkeness or impairment.The potential for miscarriage of justice is enormous.Even a teetotaller is at risk of false accusation.

Few Cloudy
26th Jan 2003, 10:25

Hard as it seems, the half bottle nine hours before T/O is only legal with the 8 hours rule. In other countries a 12 hour rule exists. Some companies insist on a more restrictive rule. "Bottle to throttle" becomes "bottle to check-in" etc. Then it gets subjective - "how much alcohol?"

All that comes to naught, however when a blood alcohol level test is made - which happens more and more these days. There are police data showing how much level to expect so many hours after drinking but the test is the nitty gritty.

Alcohol is excreted via the lungs at a rate dependent upon individual factors. If you can smell the alcohol on the breath of someone, this process is for sure still in progress. If you can't, it still might be.

The only safe advice is to drink no alcohol the night before a flight. This is an enormous change in life style for lots of us. So was learning not to drive home from an evening out on the town but times are changing.

26th Jan 2003, 11:19
So that’s all right then.

I don’t mind complying with any rule they dream up regarding bottle to throttle. I do however, insist on as near normal a social life as one can reasonably expect in this business. If they demand I don’t drink anything for 12 hours or whatever figure they dream up, no problem…but I expect my normal days off followed by the requisite time to comply with the rules before the next duty.

The way things are heading, we’ll need at least blocks of 4 days off to comply. I wonder if they’ll agree to that?:rolleyes:

26th Jan 2003, 11:34
could this level of alcohol be a result from drinking the night before or must it have been from the same day of the flight?
I know of a fatal where the postmortem revealed the pilot's blood/alcohol level was still over 0.05 though witnesses confirmed he ceased drinking 10 hours before the accident.

26th Jan 2003, 12:00
Surely for me to comply with the law I have to be able to measure it. Can I buy a machine to measure my blood alcohol level in the morning ; or should I just go "sick" if I had a drink the night before just to make sure that I am legal because that is what will happen?

26th Jan 2003, 12:33
At the moment the JAR-OPS 0.O2 promille limit is largely unenforceable in the UK. The current requirement in the Air Navigation Order is simply that a member of crew shall not "be under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to impair his capacity so to act". There is no limit set in legislation and there are no powers to require to require crew to provide samples of breath etc for testing.

This will be changed by the Railways and Transport Safety Bill introduced in the House of Commons earlier this month. Part 5 contains clauses which establish an alcohol limit of 0.02 promille for flight and cabin crew and ATCOs and provid the police with the power to require samples (breath, blood or urine) from anyone suspected committing an offence.


My understanding is that the 0.02 promille limit is higher than than the level of alcohol that can be natuarally produced by the body in most circumstances.

Max Angle
26th Jan 2003, 12:51
I am not advocating getting drunk before you go and fly but any rule that means you cannot enjoy a glass of wine or a pint with your dinner at 19:00 in the evening and not be legal to fly at 6:30-07:00 the next morning is bloody pathetic and has no pathological basis at all.

If you are operating in a country where that is the law then you clearly have no choice but to comply. I can just imagine the sort of self-righteous, Boss suit and thin slitty black rimmed glasses wearing jobsworths who came up with these sorts of rules. Ughh, it makes me wretch, I'm off for a lunchtime pint. (No flying till Wednesday so I think that should be OK!)

26th Jan 2003, 12:53
For what it's worth, I still think the 8hr "bottle to throttle" rule should be extended to at least 12hrs. I do understand that it's sociable and relaxing to have a beer after a flight, we've all done it, but I think lessons need to be learned from the recent events at BA and in the US. More importantly, how would you feel if you had been breathalised and found to be over the limit? People's lives are at stake. Anyway, that's my opinion - cheers http://www.stopstart.freeserve.co.uk/smilie/guin.gif

26th Jan 2003, 12:59
We all agree that nobody should fly a plane under the influence of alcohol.This applies to any other profession which involves the safety of the general public.

However in the case of airline pilots there are many more factors that can reduce performance other than alcohol and to label a pilot unfit to fly just because he had a drink the night before, is more of a danger than any misleading alcohol test.

Hidden factors such as tiredeness, depression, stress, mood swings,etc can compromise safety just as much if not more than alcohol, but these are not measurable using technology and are nevertheless very real factors.

If a pilot doesn't drink any alcohol but stays up all night, surely he is more dangerous to the airline and the public, but because this is not measurable noone is penalised for it.

Safety rules are a fundamental part of our societies, and your industry in particular, but common sense should also prevail.

If this specific BA pilot had only a drink (still to be proven) the night before the flight, it would be a crime to label him a drunk, as the media has done, as this could potentially ruin his career without any "real" foundation for disciplinary action.
It is only the extremities of the Swedish law that have bought this situation to the public attention and laws are made by falable human beings.

I am not a pilot, but I feel this is a case of following the letter of the law too severely, in this particular case a law that is almost impossible to implement because of its extreme severity.
Asking people to drive at 5mph normally doesn't result in them doing so because it is almost technically impossible to do so without stalling. In the same way this rule goes beyond the limits of common sense and doesn't contribute to better safety at all.

26th Jan 2003, 13:59
Sunday Express has a banner splash reading "Arrested In The Cockpit - Drunken BA pilot dragged from controls by police". So it's good to see that Britain's no. 1 pornographer-owned newspaper is keeping things in perspective! PS, pro mille means parts per thousand, no? So certainly not double the same number of percentage points! In fact it's that divided by 10.

The Controlller
26th Jan 2003, 14:37
The Capt involved posned LHR-ARN the day before and was met by ground staff who reported that he was drunk then and crews at the crew hotel saw him continuing drinking thru the evening. There was no way he would be sober for the early morning departure and thought that the crew should report sick and delay the departure. The authorities at ARN were pre warned and fully aware of his condition.
A very sad situation and he SHOULD know better.

26th Jan 2003, 15:28
You might like this.

It is from the UK ACPO Manual of Guidance on the Police Use of Firearms


11.1 The consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs in medical treatment or otherwisemay reduce the alertness and performance of an officer. Officers carrying firearms
should not consume, or be unfit whilst under the influence of, alcohol. Any officer who is receiving a course of drug treatment should seek the advice of their own doctor or Occupational Health Unit concerning the possible side effects. Any other concerns, or medical advice given to an officer should be brought to the attention of their immediate supervisor, who should take appropriate action.

There used to be a 24 hour before rule. Now, however, an officer's fitness to carry, given regard to all circumstances, is considered by the individual and their supervisor.

Just because you had a drink eight hours ago and there is residual alcohol in your system, doesn't necessarily make you unfit to carry out a task.

This all goes back to what is a safe level.

Having been fully trained as a custody suite breathalyser operator, you would be surprised how much you do have to drink to get it to provide a big reading. One of the main things is how much food you have eaten. Half a lager on anempty stomach is a recipie for disaster

26th Jan 2003, 15:54
The Capt involved posned LHR-ARN the day before and was met by ground staff who reported that he was drunk

I don't quite get this.

I assume these 'gound staff' who met him were there to arrange his transport to the hotel.

If he was positioning, he was on duty, therefore should not have been drunk.

So who exactly did the ground staff report this to and when?

26th Jan 2003, 16:00

I'm not quite sure where your're coming from?

<<If he was positioning, he was on duty>> Yes

<<therefore should not have been drunk>> Under the ANO - yes - nobody should be "drunk" on an aircraft.

However, "having a drink" while on duty (e.g. while positioning) is not against BA rules, or any others I know, provided out of uniform and obviously not operating afterwards i.e. a rest period first.

The worrying thing as you say is that this seems to have been noticed by a number of people over a period of time, and all that seems to have been done was lay the trap? If all the above is true, it does not condone the behaviour of the individual, but some direct intervention earlier might have saved the individual and BA a lot of hassle, whilst still getting the point across.

26th Jan 2003, 16:02
Sorry Flaps one, Why can't you have a drink whilst positioning. If You are not within a Flight Duty Period. The point is when are you going to actually operate an A/C thats when timing matters.:confused:

26th Jan 2003, 16:09
I'm a humble PPL and I like my pint (or three) but for me the 12 hour "bottle to throttle" rule is paramount - even here in Thailand where the rules might sometimes be a little less strict.

If the pilot's breath was bad enough to initiate a breath/blood check then (I'm sorry) I have no sympathy for the person involved and can only applaud the decision taken to remove them from the flight deck.

26th Jan 2003, 16:23
From the Indiana Prevention Resource Center (http://www.happinessonline.org/BeTemperate/p15.htm) website:

Conversion Factors for Alternative Measurements
The most common system for measuring and reporting Blood Alcohol Levels (BAL) is calculated using the weight of alcohol (milligrams) and the volume of blood (deciliter). This yields a Blood Alcohol Concentration that can be expressed as a percentage (ie. 0.10% alcohol by volume), or as a proportion (ie. 100 mg. per deciliter). This system is the one prescribed by almost every state, and is sometimes referred to as the "weight by volume" or "w/v" method.

A few states prescribe a "weight by weight" or "w/w" method (milligrams of alcohol in milligrams of blood). For forensic evidence purposes, the w/w can be calculated by dividing the w/v by a factor or 1.055 (the average specific gravity of blood).

Although most evidentiary rules specify that the proportion of alcohol in the whole blood be used to measure the level of intoxication, most hospitals routinely calculate the proportion of a drug in the plasma portion of the blood. While this measurement is the most useful one for medical purposes, it is not the appropriate one for most legal purposes. Since the addition of red and white blood cells would add to the blood volume that dilutes the alcohol, using only the plasma fraction would result in a percentage of alcohol that is higher than would be found in whole blood. Although there is some variation from person to person, depending upon the density of their bloods, the average adjustment factor is 1.16. In other words, to estimate the alcohol level in whole blood using the alcohol level in blood plasma, divide by 1.16. For example, a plasma alcohol level of 0.15% would convert to a blood alcohol level of 0.13%.

Comparison of Blood Alcohol Level Reporting Systems
Six different methods of reporting the same blood alcohol measurement.

Method of Stating the Measurement Result

Blood Alcohol Concentration (percent weight to volume) 0.10%
Milligrams per milliliter 1.0
Milligram percent (milligrams per 100 ml.) 100
parts per million 1000
Percent by weight (weight by weight) 0.09%

Hotel Charlie
26th Jan 2003, 16:27

A bit harsh there, don´t You think! Not so humble. The mans breathelizer test showed 0.02%!! This is NOT beeing drunk and is a leagel level in most countries! Lets get the blood test and give this guy the benefit of the doubt!:cool:

26th Jan 2003, 16:34
Hotel Charlie.

A rule is a rule. Any (repeat any) alcohol intake 12 hours before taking command is a No No as far as I am concerned. That is what I was taught and I stick by it

26th Jan 2003, 16:39
The point is obvious: there is no benefit in arguing whether the guy was hard done by or not.
The rules of play are simply different to what they used to be and they are not going to become any more lenient, ever.

The answer is simple:- if you want to keep your licence, don't drink the night before an early start. Not too much of a sacrifice for keeping a good job.


26th Jan 2003, 16:58
From what has been said it seems the level being exceeded was half a pint of beer. I must I find that slightly difficult to believe but anyway, when I was being trained to fly, the received position was that half a pint is the lowest amount of alcohol that could - at that time - be detected. Nevertheless half a pint of beer produces quantifiable reduction in pilot performance under test.

Please, everyone, make sure you have a zero alcohol level when you fly.

I believe, by the way, that Tube drivers (and other Underground workers) are randomly breathylised and will fail if they have been drinking the night before - so no sympathy about intrusions on your lifestyle.

26th Jan 2003, 17:46


I had (incorrectly) made the association of positioning on duty with wearing uniform which in most (all?) companies is a no no.

Shows the danger of making assumptions I guess!!!!!!!

26th Jan 2003, 18:14
As an ex cop I do remember some of the factors involved.

The blood/ alcohol limit on UK roads is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If this guys reading was a quarter of this then it would equate in my experience - approximately - to one 'unit' (a half of beer, glass of wine or single shot of spirit) ie the sort of level routinely guzzled by professional pilots - civvy and military - in France with their lunch.

I also recall that alcohol is dissipated from the blood at around 15mg per hour - but with many variables involved.

I therefore reckon that 3 pints of 4 percent beer would have 'Mr average' 1 1/2 x times the driving limit and would almost certainly leave him with the sort of reading reported here in the early morning.

This guy wasn't ****@d and presumably got nicked just because somebody noticed his beer breath.

Secondly, the breath test administered at the scene is just a screening device. It is the basis for a request for further samples only.

Mouth alcohol will not convict you. A teaspoonfull of scotch swilled around your mouth will give an enormous reading. However, 20 minutes later - a very good margin to allow for such a highly volatile liquid to dissipate - will allow a sensible reading that reflects the true level of alcohol in your body - hence the question 'when did you have your last drink?'

A cop will always wait for 20 minutes on the roadside if you have just driven out of a pub.

All I would say to you guys - and I am just a hobby pilot who is usually found on the Private Flying and History forums only - is this-

If any of you have 2 or 3 pints of beer in an evening, go to bed reasonably early, get up feeling absolutely fine, pin-sharp and ready to do your professional job - you are probably at the same level as our poor unfortunate BA victim.

Without a doubt - there will be some trace of alcohol at the very least.

Don't risk it. Have a glass of wine with your dinner, or a single beer if you really feel the need but leave it at that. It ain't worth it.

The journo's have had a field day with this. Anybody reading the Mail on Sunday will believe that this bloke was dragged, reeling ****@d, from the cockpit.

No way.

There is already a great 'holier than thou' reaction - and there will be plenty more keen to have a pop at him.

However, how many others are reading this and thinking, 'that could have been me'?


Brookmans Park
26th Jan 2003, 19:11
Whist, I suppose one should commend the diligence(?) of the ARN staff .
I would like to point out that at an airport on the west coast of sweden I have reguarly complained about a far more dangerous situation than a pilot with a minimal alchohol level, namely a situation wherte the re fueuling supervisor leaves his position in order to assit the baggage loaders,
this came to the forefront on the day when smoke appeared from the bowser while it was not being monitored by the designated supervisor, in my opinion this was far more dangerous than the
ARN scenario

I have also experienced situations where at an airport in north west France I have twice had serious doubts about the sobriety of the same (very attractive) lady, who does the load sheet, including such coments on the flight deck as "Did you sjmell her breathe?", and then not too suppriesed to find major load
sheet errors
In future I will make sure that these people are subject to any available scrutiny which also applies to aircrew

26th Jan 2003, 20:01
Hairyplane - an intelligent and considered addition. I only hope our Street of Shame tormentors will read it. How anyone armed with what I expect is a good degree can go into that profession and sleep at night I cannot imagine.

As someone whose recent life has consisted of 6 earlies, 2 days off then 6 earlies (which should of course be illegal but as a 7.30 take off on the continent doesnt count as an early despite a body clock 4.30 alarm call) I know how debilitating fatigue can be - far more dangerous than 2 or three pints 9 hours earlier. Now that is worth a serious investigation - but of course that would mean some hard work and the headline 'Pilots forget to arm Localiser due to Tiredness' doesnt really look as good in 44 point.

26th Jan 2003, 21:06
and don't forget .....mouthwashes are out now early a.m. and don't spill any beer on yer trousers in the pub and wear them the next day . You'll be smelling of alcohol !!!!!!!!!

My father gave me some advice many moons ago......"Don't go on the razzle with Scandinavians......they can't handle it ......and they're obsessed with it" It proved to be good advice Most recently on th Necastle-Bergen ferry !!!!!

0.2 eh !!!!!!! half pint of beer .......nuff said

Good luck to the poor sod who fell into their clutches

26th Jan 2003, 23:06
I second that 52049er , a reasoned and balanced approach is what is needed in a situation like this.

Loose rivets
26th Jan 2003, 23:36
A couple or three things come to mind.

When will the first pilot go to jail for being tired? Three people in the UK have now been jailed for causing an accident wile driving tired; the last one it seems was of perfect character before an unexplained excursion across the road which got him a year inside.

The assumption that a small amount of booze is OK is alway a little risky. It is the small amount that makes us think that a bit more will not matter too much, then just a drop...etc. etc.. This has always led me to believe that any crime that may be committed, is at the early stage of a drinking session. The planning should be as meticulous as fuel calculations, but then in a perfect world I would not be trying to sleep in the middle of a noisy town at noon, with the A/C out and a road drill outside.

Pilots have probably always resorted to alcohol to help with the difficult lifestyle. If we are to set new standards in sobriety, what will be done to aid proper sleep requirements?

Ian Corrigible
27th Jan 2003, 00:27
Just out of interest, are there many BA A320 pilots on £100,000, or is this simply reflective of the level of reporting on the subject? And is this a usual mount for someone of his seniority?


27th Jan 2003, 00:44
One quick thought......

Did the swedish police break international law when they entered the aircraft??

As far as I know the inside of a british regestred aircraft is british soil, and foreign police have therefore no rights there. It is the same with aircraft as ships and embassies. I recall at least one insident where the police was about to enter a foreign aircraft to arrest some people but were quickly turned around at the door, because it breached international law and the sovernity of the sate the aircraft was regestred in.

Any komments??

27th Jan 2003, 02:08

So what you are saying that to go out on a bender, drink 15 pints but stop 12 hours and 5 mins before flying is OK , but to drink half a pint 11 and 55 minutes before take off is a No No- is how you were taught to play the game .:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

27th Jan 2003, 03:39
>>Did the swedish police break international law when they entered the aircraft??<<

Probably not, this hypothetical stuff about sovereign territory does not apply to a parked aircraft with the door open in most countries (including the U.S.). Law enforcement can and will enter the aircraft from my experience.

Anyway, according to BA, they caught the alleged drunk pilot before he got to the cockpit. From an earlier post in this thread:

>>BA spokeswoman

BA insisted that the pilot, reportedly in his 50s and from the London area, had not been close to flying the plane.

"Any suggestion that the pilot was removed from the cockpit is simply untrue," the spokeswoman said. <<

27th Jan 2003, 03:50
If he has gone too close to the line and is dismissed, he will be able to make a small fortune by taking the previously named newspapers to court.

I'm sure there are plenty of witnesses to say that he was not dragged from the cockpit etc...

High Volt
27th Jan 2003, 04:25
Lock the flight deck door and refuse to open it for twelve hours - seriously!!!

27th Jan 2003, 07:37
Just out of interest, are there many BA A320 pilots on £100,000, or is this simply reflective of the level of reporting on the subject? And is this a usual mount for someone of his seniority?

I wish, I wish! He would be making a good salary but it is somewhat irrelevant in my thinking.

Does anybody know how many airliners have crashed due to pilots being intoxicated?

Senator McCarthy would be proud if he could observe the witch hunts that are now taking place, in so many areas, with such zeal by so many.

Does anybody have any idea when we will arrive at Utopia where life will be devoid of any risk whatsoever?

27th Jan 2003, 08:23
The swedish rules are as follows:
24 hrs before duty one must drink with care, i.e. a pint or so...
8 hrs before duty you are not allowed to drink anything containing alcohol and one must be able to drive a car according to swedish regulations, wich is 0,2 promille.
When checking in for duty the limit is 0,0.

These are the rules we are supposed to follow when we fly on our swedish licence, wherever we fly in the world.

27th Jan 2003, 08:56
If any of it turns out to be true (IF!) then good riddance. The industry has had enough setbacks to last a lifetime.

However, every cloud.....that's one more vacancy to be filled by someone a little more responsible.

27th Jan 2003, 09:17
someone more responsible,such as you I suppose ?
With that charming attitude,no wonder you would like to fill the void,if this unfortunate guy is kicked out of BA.
A PPL and six hundred hours on Flight Sim 2000 does not give you the right to pre-judge a PROFESSIONAL pilot.

27th Jan 2003, 09:22
As cabin crew I know that at the end of a five to seven day block of earlies,getting up at base or downroute is irrelevant and long multi-sector days,sometimes I really feel the tiredness take affect.

In our position as cabin crew this can be seen in the service when our faces crack on day six sector four when trying to say 'hello and goodbye'with company smiles!!,or when someone asks for a drink and when you take it the punter in the next seat asks for one :mad: .
On a safety side of things we may be two seconds slower to open the door.

My point here is if our actions are impaired by 'fatigue' the consequences would certainly not be as serious as it would to our colleagues on the flight deck.

No I don't want to fly with any pilot who is p**sed and to my knowledge never have (and IMHO a couple of glasses of wine or a couple of pints outside of 12 hours is NOT p**sed ),however more and more I see pilots on their last sector of a busy tour with lots of early starts and they look very tired and this does concern me.

Both BALPA and to an extent our cabin crew unions need to ensure no increase to our working hours if not fight for a reduction.

I have one day off which is today and I'm back on duty at 0810 tomorrow so to be safe do I have to have my two glasses of red at 1600 with an early dinner to be safe??. Maybe we should look at a minimum early start on our first day back ?.
There are people out there willing to stop us flying for being 'over the limit' and that can only be a good thing for all concerned but I can't see these same people doing the same if they see we're tired!!.

I finish by asking all those highly paid 'journos' out there to reduce their alcohol intake and it may help them stop getting so many facts mixed up and producing such sh*t articles on their front pages.If I can find some pretty Airbus F/O on 100K I may have to say goodbye to the Missus!!.


27th Jan 2003, 09:27
witchdoctor and other puritanical zealots...

Do you ever engage brain before approaching keyboard?

'Police drag drunken BA pilot from controls of airliner.
is how the Mail on Sunday reported this 'Exclusive' story.

That set the tone for an article which shames modern 'journalism'. Put on the front page to shock and sell papers, but not to inform us truthfully of newsworthy world happenings.

IF the pilot was breathalysed and was asked to take a blood test, then fair enough. He was almost certainly NOT 'dragged from the controls.'

The kind of alcohol level we are talking about has nothing to do with 'drunkenness' or ability to drive or fly, but the limits to which a scientific instrument can apply the thought police policies of modern living. A zero limit sentences pilots, and pilots only it seems, to becoming tee-total or finding a new job.

What kind of world is it in which a once respected team of professionals can no longer live a normal life and exercise professional judgement over this issue?

Hotel Charlie
27th Jan 2003, 09:41
Hello Dudes and Dudets!

nojacketsrequired and Arkroyal You are right on! The hole thing is a load of BS! This is what it comes to when we let low life pencil pushers and 'journos' make the big decisions for oss. We need to take our lifes back!

Human Factor
27th Jan 2003, 10:51
Just out of interest, are there many BA A320 pilots on £100,000.....

I wish.

27th Jan 2003, 11:07
Could it be that the journos would not have even picked up on this case had it not been for the existence of this thread? I think a degree more thought should be used before opening such threads. Press interest in the alleged offence (innocent until proven guilty, not that would have any effect on the loathsome Mail on Sunday) has probably increased the stress levels on the indivdual concerned ten-fold (and stress alone can kill)

27th Jan 2003, 11:17
Quite right Moondance,
quite simply this guy has been treated as guilty until proved innocent by:
The gutter press
Many pprune contributors

Lets see the result of the blood test before we "convict" the guy. After all, using mouthwash would probably give a positive breathalyser result.

ATB, PTC (positively disgusted, though not surprised at this thread)

27th Jan 2003, 11:59
Arkroyal - absolutely correct.

And on Sky News last night, yet another example of our gutter loving, sensationalist, crap talking, truth-denying media - "in yet another of what is a recent long line of incidents involving pilots trying to fly while under the influence of alcohol, a BA pilot has been suspended.....blah blah blah......this will do little to restore the confidence of frightened passengers. " eh???

What a load of tosh eh..........:rolleyes: :mad: It's amazing how the planes ever stay up there what with us all rolling around drunk.:rolleyes:

27th Jan 2003, 15:07
Don't be silly T-shirt. You know what I mean.

27th Jan 2003, 15:50
What was the Policeman doing in the cockpit anyway? I thought the law now was that only the operating flight deck crew and CAA Ops inspectors were allowed in the cockpit of a british registered airliner?

Perhaps the issue is not that a pilot had an alchohol level equivalent to half a point of shandy drunk 12 hours earlier but that another gross breach of security has taken place and passengers were "screaming with terror" as man with "a gun and handcuffs and a truncheon" entered the cockpit.

27th Jan 2003, 16:17
I thought it would be appropriate to point out that in this case it doesn't matter what Swedish law is regarding flying and drinking. The pilot was about to fly a British registered aircraft and therefore British law applies. The amount of blood alcohol allowed (0.2 promille) is the same but Swedish law is stricter regarding the number of hours "bottle to throttle". Even though you may be flying in Sweden, if the aircraft is British than you are operating to British limits not Swedish.

27th Jan 2003, 16:45

Are you absolutely sure about that?

FWIW, I feel terribly sorry for the individual concerned. There but for the grace......etc. On no measure could this guy be considered 'drunk' if he blew one quarter of the legal limit for driving in this country!

Everybody should be aware that these puritanical limits are determined for political reasons, by politicians who wish to curry the votes of a vocal minority.

They have very little, IF ANY, scientific justification. After all, as far as I am aware, alcohol is one of many substances BANNED by the IOC, because in small quantities it actually ENHANCES human performance!!!

Give the poor guy a break, he must be going through hell!

Reading between the lines, it sounds very much to me as though somebody has had a malicous dig at him as 'payback!'

27th Jan 2003, 17:24
I'm sorry, but it sounds like a lot of you think going to work, smelling of alcohol and having 0.2 promille, is OK. That having 1/2 bottle of wine with your dinner is a right you have, and if it produces 0.2 promille in the morning, then it's the system that is wrong, not you?
The Scandihooligans are madmen, so he was simply unlucky to get caught? Better not drink in Scandiland then, save it for France? Spain?
The rules are tough, but it should not be a problem. It's not against the rules to be 100% sober when you report for duty. If he used Scotch to rinse his mouth, the blood test will clear him. The time between the breath test and the blood test will work for him, as the level will drop.
If the press reports are correct, what should the police have done when staff reported him to smell of alcohol? What should HE have done when he saw the police, run to the aircraft and shut the doors, claiming to be in UK?

27th Jan 2003, 17:27
1 promille = 1/1000 and 1 percent = 1/100

Hotel Charlie
27th Jan 2003, 17:48

Get a grip! The man was NOT drunk. 0.02% does not meen that you´re drunk. Nobody here has said it is ok to fly drunk! It looks like You aplaude the ridiculous alkohol politics that are in force in Scandinavia. If you think the man is less safe having 0.02% alcohol than the theoretical 0.00% then you have a problem. And yes the system sucks!

27th Jan 2003, 18:22

Sorry, you are wrong to say when flying in Sweden, if the aircraft is British than you are operating to British limits not Swedish. The is no reason why the Swedish law should not apply to foreign aircraft. Indeed the Bill currently before the UK Parliament applies a 0.02 promille limit to the crew of all aircraft in the UK regardless of the registration of the aircraft or the nationality of the carrier.


The 0.02 promille limit has not be established by politicians but by the European safety regulators based on scientific evidence. I attended a Royal Aeronautical Society Conference on this subject a number of years ago and the consensus amongst the scientists making presentations was that the low limits were necessary.

27th Jan 2003, 19:04
First thing to do now is increase briefing times for all flights in order to familiarize with laws of your destination. You think you're legal with one beer at dep- 12hrs, it turns out to be different.
How can you know what the limit is? That could be an interesting question when BA is going to sack those pilots.

27th Jan 2003, 19:05
We need to know if he just had a few the night before and some still remained in his bloodstream or whether he really'hung one on ' .

If it is the latter , I hope he pulls the stress card . invasive security searches several times a day , terrorist threats , long duty hours , locked up in a cockpit for hours at a time , to name but a few . All the politicians can do is dream up ways of making our lives more unpleasant .

What have the authorities done to ease ourstress levels / concerns post 911 ?

27th Jan 2003, 20:08
Under the present bill [clause 90] going through parliament the prescribed limit will be 20 milligammes of alcohol per 100 millilites of blood for aircrew and ATCOs. Engineers will be permitted 80 per 100. It is estimated that the present "blow in the bags" will cost £17k to modify for the lower limit.

Clause 95 permits the police to board aircraft or "any other place"

'The powers that be' estimate that between 10 and 15 individuals will be brought before the courts yearly under this new legislation.
Their airships have not explained how this figure has been computed.

Articles 5,6 and 8 of the Human Rights Act may be affected by this bill, but because it is in the public interest etc etc it is compatible with the Act. So that's alright then.

No doubt BALPA will wish to give us appropriate guidance in the fullness of time.


27th Jan 2003, 20:42
Journalist dragged from typewriter drunk!! Not really headline stuff eh! The paper is run and owned by w*nkers! They should get to face the poor bloke concerned, my guess is that a large proportion of the country are over the swedish limits a lot of the time - especially journos who look for headlines alas these days and not reporting facts. Sensationalist tw*ts.

:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

27th Jan 2003, 21:13
Im a swedish pilot, according to Swedish CAA i must obey swedish rules, but if i'm flying in a country with stricter rules, i must obey them instead (are there any in this case???). Is it the same for UK?

Bye the way, 0,02% is not beeing drunk, so true, but on the other hand, taking the responsibility in account, when you show up for flight duty you should be at 0,00%.
Its our responsibility to be able to cope with situations that can be quite demanding. Are we able to do that after a night out with ramains of alcohol in the blood the morning after?

Max Angle
27th Jan 2003, 21:32
Its our responsibility to be able to cope with situations that can be quite demanding. Are we able to do that after a night out with remains of alcohol in the blood the morning after? If it's 0.02% then yeah, I reckon I would be just fine and dandy.

27th Jan 2003, 22:24
It's generally recognised that 2 pints of beer drunk in the previous hour or two could put you over the UK breathalyser limit.
That would be the .08 quoted onthese threads. So if the reading
was .02 that would mean you have drunk a half pint of beer in the last hour or two. I doubt if this guy had been drinking a half pint at 0600 in the morning. Which means he had drunk more but earlier but the effect would have been the same as if he had had a half pint 2 hours before take off. Hand on heart everybody, would that amount at that distance impair anybody dangerously or at all? Keep your hand on your heart and tell me it couldn't never have been you ? Never been to a wedding the day before? Xmas? Your 30th, 40th or 50th birthday party and they called you in from standby the next day when they promised you're on last call? Not .02, surely not you!
If a limit of .02 applies to somebody who has available all the automatics in the world why should a limit of .08 apply to a lorry driver with 30 tons under his manual control in an environment where he is in uncontrolled (except subjectively) proximity to others similarily equipped? Not that that is really relevant, just an observation.
There is a deal of difference between drinking and dancing on the stage at 3am before an early report and this case.

27th Jan 2003, 22:42

I'm really not sure what your point is but if you are saying it is ok to fly under the influence of alcohol (which means any) then I'm sorry to tell you you are in the wrong profession and probably the cab of a lorry is where you should be.

27th Jan 2003, 23:01
There is no doubt that the 'British soil' argument is bogus. The Dutch police can - and do - board aircraft at random and breathalyse pilots. I am sure this is the same in Sweden. We do not have Diplomatic Immunity ... and neither should we. If this was the case, would, say, a Belgian truck full of dying asylum seekers be 'off limits' to the UK police? I think not - and would we be happy if an overseas crew were immune from our own laws?

The two issues of alcohol limits and rights of boarding are seperate - we all expect, and have no problem with, a ramp check by the DGAC in Paris or Nice, and similarly we expect free access by our own inspectors to non- UK aircraft here.

The issue we should be addressing is not the actual limit, but how accurate its measurement is and how fair the forensic legal process is thereafter. I believe it differs hugely from country to country.

I fail to see how we as a professional group can argue against an alcohol limit, but we should address an industry wide standard of due process which is just and has no frontiers.

28th Jan 2003, 00:31
Reading all the comments, be it scientific to the Nth degree, or the various home spun philosophies, or the holier than thou brigade, I can see that a breathaliser should be part of any Piolts pre departure kit.

People quote the 12 hour rule and my earlier comment amount the amount 12 hours before was (perhaps!) an exageration but it is obvious from the comments that people have no idea whether 2 glasses of wine, 2 pints or 2 scotches 12 hour before will put them over the limit.
As has been pointed out we are not talking about someone falling over drunk but someone who is outside an arbitary limit ( and yes I know about all the scientific committees but it is still arbitary ! )
WE know we are exceeding the speed limit because we have a speedometer but in this case most of us have nothing to judge against.

YES I know the answer if for all pilots to be teetotal ! Perhaps it will soon be a requirement to get a CPL;) ;)

28th Jan 2003, 01:11
The great day will be when there's a fatigue meter you can check before the next sector to see if you will be up to the landing at the other end -- mind you if something fails it will get the adrenalin up and you will be temporarily unfatigued.

After my stint in undergraduate physics, I became thoroughly familiar with the statistical vagaries of various measuring devices, especially when it comes to declaring a reading to be zero -- t'ain't no such thing -- there's always a bit of something.

So what really is the Swedish 0,0 permille?
0,0499999 or less perhaps.
I would not be surprised if 0,05 to 0,1499999 registers as 0,1
A conscientious designer of a forensic device would like to have an accuracy of at least two decimal points more than the display shows and to stand up against cross-examination in a court of law it would help if the reading is never a result of rounding up.

However many jurisdictions legislate/regulate/mandate that the reading shown by certain models by certain manufacturers is uncontraventable evidence:p

28th Jan 2003, 03:30
There was an AA pilot detained today (01/27)for "having been smelled" alcohol but mostly mint on his breath. He checked out at .004 but was not allowed to fly the route (ST Louis).

Pax were waiting for about 3 hours while this farce was taking place.

BTW. Pilot was charged and is jailed.

28th Jan 2003, 05:00
Before you rip my head off, may I ask you to put on your glasses, and read my post one more time? I'm not saying he was drunk, am I? He MAY be in violation of Swedish rules. You sound like you are happy to report for work at 0.2 promille. 0.4 is the Norwegian limit, but it doesn't give me the RIGHT to report for duty with 0.4 promille. At least, thats the way I see it.
Alcohol will increase your perfomance. Yeah, lets all have 1/2 a pint before work?

28th Jan 2003, 07:47
I may be wrong about my above posting, after reading the comments earlier. However, there is still one big misunderstanding regarding the differences between UK and Swedish law. 0.2 promille is the limit in both Sweden AND the UK. UK law states that a pilot will not have enough alcohol in his bloodstream to impair his ability to fly. JAR-OPS rules state that 0.2 promille is the limit above which would impair a pilot's ability to fly. As the UK CAA operates under JAR-OPS therefore 0.2 promille is the limit in the UK as well. The big difference between Scandanavia and the UK is Scandanavia's restriction on time limits between last drink and flying (with Scandanavia being much stricter). Nevertheless, 0.2 promille would land a pilot in trouble in the UK as well as Sweden. The difference is that the police cannot perform random blood tests in the UK.


Hotel Charlie
28th Jan 2003, 08:35

I´m not biting Your head off, but I do not understand that you defend a system that makes hard working citizens into criminals. The man showed up for work, not drunk but again marginally above the theoretical 0.00%. Now he is a criminal, throw him in jail and fire his a..! There is no evidence that the lowering from 0.05% to the 0.00% driving limit has resulted in less people being killed on the road. It has on the other hand produced more money for the goverment (from fines) and more criminals. And so the politicians happy (scumbags)!
In norway the limit is 0.02% now as well! And no I do not accept anyone showing up for flt duty drunk!!

28th Jan 2003, 09:07
It never ceases to amaze me why contributors to this thread feel they are doing this industry a service by conducting these debates in the public forums. Having a look at some of the contributions , I get the impression that the very people your seem set on attacking , ie the media, probably have a look at every few hours to see if there's any paper-selling points emerging. Wait for the facts, then conducts your debates.

Capt H Peacock
28th Jan 2003, 09:33
What this exposes more than anything is the hypocrisy of tin-pot management and sanctimonious politicians aided splendidly by a cynical media, who on the one hand will crucify an individual for being ‘under the influence of alcohol’ at 20mg, and yet conspire to increase flying hours for already tired flight crews.

In all my many years in this business, I have scarcely encountered anyone whose performance was impaired by alcohol. I have however seen countless incidences of fatigue, indeed have suffered myself. In an environment where ever more adventurous rostering departments have us flitting back and forth across the pond on two and three day rotations as if we were going to Brussels and back, fatigue and not beer will be the prime cause of performance impairment.

If this is a public debate, then so much the better. If the pilot is to be public enemy number one, and is to be cajoled into a life of abstinence, incarceration and celibacy, under what perverted rationale do they force him to fly till he drops through fatigue?

28th Jan 2003, 09:37
Twisted engine starter.
Perhaps I can help you. Read my post again. Read the reasoned posts on this thread as opposed to the "holier than thou" or personal insults efforts like yours. Think. And remember that the pain in your forehead is your halo tightening as your head swells.

28th Jan 2003, 09:44
A quick scan with Google produced this site - there are others but what appears to be a decent product was $30 cheaper here than others.
The cost of a kit $69 or $129 for 2. It might become as much a part of our equipment as a crew bag and should also be tax deductible. The accuracy of all breathalysers that I have looked at are .01% so it would appear that the real limit is 0.015.
Should we consider a joint purchase?
Danny might like to think about a "pop up" at a special price for PPRuNer’s.
Of course the Law would require us to check ourselves every day before going to work and if in any doubt report "unfit to carry out our duty"

28th Jan 2003, 09:51
It seems that the police can turn up at any time and 'try' to breathalise a pilot.
About 15 years ago while in the crew hotel at Saarbrucken in Germany, the German Police arrived to breathalise the British crew flying a UK registered aircraft involved in an airmiss with an American fighter near Ramstein while under a German radar service in uncontrolled lower airspace near Ramstein. The local police arrived at the hotel about 2 hours after the airmiss incident. The crew involved were having a post flight drink in my room when the police arrived. Fortunately the police eventually agreed with us that a breath test would be pointless, and they left after taking statements.

28th Jan 2003, 10:04
So the burning question is who is right then ? The International Olympic Committee, the CAA, the Swedes, Or the JAR OPs Committee ?
If the IOC except that alchohol is a perfomance enhancer then how much is it that neccessitates a ban? They obviously have scientific data to back up their claims/ban.

I think we can all agree that the limit set by the various authorities is an "Arbitary one" and no way could an individual be considered to be "Drunk"at that limit.

Hands up anyone who has NEVER broken the national speed limits of their Country ? You know you are breaking the limit and the laws of the land, as you have a speedo in front of you telling you so.
Such reckless and dangerous driving is surely intolerable but again you have a speedo in front of you; you know you are committing an offence and its your choice.

The problem is there is no practicle way anybody can measure accurately their alchohol limit at the moment.
the 8-12 hours bottle to throttle are good sensible guidelines but are just that, guidelines.

There is another problem that can arise aswell and goes like this:-

You have just finished an early duty/ Stby. You don't have to report for your next duty untill mid afternoon next day.
Its either your Birthday, New Year or what ever and you're booked into the local restaurant that evening.
You have either a bottle of wine or 3 or 4 beers, your last drink was say Midnight, so you will need at least 8 hours to get the alchohol out of your system, Agreed ?

You arrive home to find a message on your answer machine telling you now to do the early 6 am report, crewing are desperate as someone has gone sick and they have no one else on Stby.(isn't that always the case ?)
You are obviously not going to meet the JAR OPs limit so you phone and inform them of the dilema.
You are now told by crewing that you are refusing a duty and a report will be filed against you.

You have stood your ground, you report as per your roster, only to find that the guy you are taking the aircraft over from is the Chief Pilot and he is none too pleased, as he has had to operate "that early." He then makes your next few years HELL !!

I can see the day when you will not be allowed any alchohol what so ever during your 5-7 day duty period "just in case "....

Hotel Charlie
28th Jan 2003, 10:30

I´m afraid that´s the way it is in Sweden already! This is how sick the system is! You have to be legal to drive a car 8 hr before flt duty. The limit for driving a car in Sweden is theoreticaly 0.00%. Allowing for mesurement error 0.02%. Now this is 8 hrs before duty! Meening NO drink approx 4 hr before that . Now 12 hr before duty is usually the time you checkout from your previous duty! So there you are! :rolleyes:

28th Jan 2003, 10:53
Not that I understand how these breathalizers work, but I understand that false positives can occur if you have a lot of keytones on your breath from a low carbohydrate diet etc.
Also as a proffessional one's reputation is at stake. So if a disgruntled person decides to "get their own back" and report you for smelling of alchol, which proves by blood test to be untrue surely you will have legal grounds to sue for deformation of character libel etc., along with your company who no doubt had to replace you at the time at great expense.
There has to be some sort of come back for an inocent individual.

Max Angle
28th Jan 2003, 10:58
The difference is that the police cannot perform random blood tests in the UK. YET!!!.

Flip Flop Flyer
28th Jan 2003, 11:26
I must congratulate many of you here for managing to divert the thread into a discussion of JAR OPS, the IOC, Swedish alchol limits and whether or not spot-checks of crews are legal. Marvellous, just marvellous.

In the mean time you completely forget to address the main point here, namely why crews time and time again get busted for "driving" under the influence. What exactly is it that drive crews to drink on lay-overs, and why is it that some crew seems to have a problem keeping their consumption to a reasonable level (= a landing beer)?

Few years ago several BA pilots were fired following a TV doc. We may not like the way it was done, or even argue the technicalities of how much exactly they had been drinking. However, for anyone who has ever shared a hotel with a BA crew, it should be obvious what sometimes goes on. Whilst hardly a scientific fact, from own and others personal experience there seems to be a trend. I have seen, on several occasions, BA crews doing all nighters at the bar, only to check out at 06 something ..... Not very fcuking smart.

Alcohol has no place in aviation when duty is drawing close, and anyone in this profession who feels the need to "wind down" by consuming alcohol in quanties that leaves him or her unfit for an early morning duty, is probably in the wrong business.

Time for a radical change of behaviour perhaps? Not suggesting crew should go teetotal, far from it. But abstaining totally from drinking whilst on a night lay-over, and with an early morning report the next day, is probably not a bad idea. Not what aviation used to be like, but times they are changing. This industry is already suffering enough without these stories.


Hotel Charlie
28th Jan 2003, 11:41
Flip Flop Flyer

You still haven´t figured it out have You?
0.02% BAC is not a flight hassard! This shoulden´t have been a story. That is the point of this thread!!!

28th Jan 2003, 12:21
Flip Flop Flyer et al...

put yourself into this context

You work a whole month more or less 6 days on 2 off...

You may have a family at home, who you don't see very often, especially when you are (as a shorthaul pilot-) very often away 4-5 nights in a row(longer if you are longhaul).

You spend up to 12 hours a day locked in a 6'x6' box with one other bod who you may or may not get on with...

Your only communication with the outside world is on the r/t or the cabin interphone.

When you get down route you are rostered minimum legal rest period at least 50% of the time.

You very often don't get the time that most other people get in order to run the rest of their lives.....

You don't get the opportunity to 'pop' to the bank during your lunch hour etc..

Being able to do the sorts of things that everybody else in the modern western world gets to do during their time off is not alot to ask is it...

When you can no longer finish you day's work and go and socialise, and imbibe in say,...2 glasses of beer if you wish to, because the regulations would make you a criminal, is a bit sodding harsh isn't it......??

Maybe the new BA pilots' uniform should consist of sackcloth robes, and we should all shave our heads....because we are going to end up living as Monks at this rate....

Quality of life and rest periods down route are the major issues involved here.........Lower levels of stress and fatigue would have a far greater benefit to flightsafety than setting limits on alcohol so low they are only just measurable....as seems to be the case here.....

fatboy slim
28th Jan 2003, 12:25
Icepack - you are absolutely correst when you talk of the dangers of fasle positves. Imagine the scene - 25 year captain who knows he is legal comes up positive on breath test. He goes home, calls Chief Pilot to set up loss of licence insurance (at one point being drunk at work was instantly assumed to be alcoholism hence medical removed), then picks up his phone to the solicitor to sue for all he is worth.

This is why the Airlines in the UK have not pushed for breath testing and has allowed the very sensible and workable self-policing system that IMHO works brilliantly in my company. If someone was clearly unfit to fly through alcohol misuse, drug misuse, stress, fatigue whatever i would have no hesitation to tell the the company and get the standby out. Surely this is better than some draconian system that only targets minute quantities of alcohol.

FlipFlopFlyer - you have totally missed the point of this. Singling out BA as a company does you no credit at all, it just fans the flames of the media inferno.

28th Jan 2003, 12:27

namely why crews time and time again get busted for "driving" under the influence.
Care to substantiate the above sweeping and inaccurate assertion?
Few years ago several BA pilots were fired following a TV doc
Er....no. One resigned the others, after a long, detailed inquiry and review of many hours of C4 film, were found to have no case to answer. C4 had attempted, very badly, to stitch up pilots in general. All bar the one who resigned are still flying for BA. Didn't make headlines because it wouldn't have sold newspapers.
However, for anyone who has ever shared a hotel with a BA crew, it should be obvious what sometimes goes on. Whilst hardly a scientific fact, from own and others personal experience there seems to be a trend. I have seen, on several occasions, BA crews doing all nighters at the bar, only to check out at 06 something
Another sweeping, unsubstantiated, subjective assertion. I have been flying for BA for over 15 years and have NEVER witnessed what you allege. The allegation is offensive.
Not very fcuking smart
One might say the same about your rather childish mis-spelling of of vulgar slang.
Alcohol has no place in aviation when duty is drawing close,
Who said it did?
and anyone in this profession who feels the need to "wind down" by consuming alcohol in quanties that leaves him or her unfit for an early morning duty, is probably in the wrong business.
Why do you feel the need to state the obvious?
But abstaining totally from drinking whilst on a night lay-over, and with an early morning report the next day, is probably not a bad idea.
Rubbish. I and many, many others abide by the rules. The rules have worked for many years. Changing the rules will not lessen the, already minimal, offending.

A little like the drive by the road lobby to reduce the driving limits. It won't make a scrap of difference to habitual drink drivers but it will make my life, as a responsible person, less pleasant.

Looking at your profile I hope you don't allow your interests to affect your job.

28th Jan 2003, 12:52
Can anyone (no barrack-room doctors/lawyers please :rolleyes: ) tell me if I am correct in believing that it is possible for a tea-totaller to register up to 0.02 Promille as a result of naturally produced alcohol by the body? I vaguely remember reading somewhere that depending on diet the body can naturally produce enough alcohol to reach the 0.02 Promille limit, which, if is the case, means that the arbitary limit is either too low or the instruments required to determine the amount precisely need to be extremely accurate.

Whilst there is no excuse for anyone reporting for a flight under the influence of alcohol and there being no accurate way of determining that limit, especially if it is possible to theoretically be 'over the limit' but not inder the influence, then we need to be very cautious. So far it would appear in this case that the pilot concerned is extremely unfortunate and depending upon any action taken against him may have a case if he can get a good barrister.

Unfortunately we have many 'holier than thou' types posting here on PPRuNe but at least we can see the reactions to individuals on this topic. Those that jumped in with irrational comments based on the sensationalist news reports, especially those by the drug induced, syphylitic reporters from certain tabloids (Not nice being accused of something that possibly isn't true, is it? :p ) appear to be the same people who are the first to run around screaming and tearing their hair out when an inaccurate story is reported about a flight.

Whether we discuss it here or not the press are going to invent whatever they want about the incident. Fortunately there are a few reporters who frequent these pages with the intention of gathering a more accurate 'feel' for what we think may be the case. The posts which antagonise us the most, ie. the holier than thou ones, are largely ignored and the debate surrounding the technical, scientific and most importantly 'experience' of those of us actually in the job, are the ones that matter.

Whilst it is very easy to just not drink any alcohol at least 24 hours before a duty, especially if like me, you don't normally drink much anyway, in reality it is more important that the limits prescribed by the law are adhered to. If, as my original question asked, the body can naturally produce enough alcohol to take you over that arbitary limit are we not in danger of breaking the law regularly whilst never being under the influence?

28th Jan 2003, 12:55
If you were to use off the shelf mouth wash this has enough alcohol to bump you up a bit.

Flip Flop Flyer
28th Jan 2003, 13:04

Not sure I can follow you. You've got a job that does not allow you to consume alcohol in quantities which may leave you unfit for duty the next day. If, due to the reasons you point out, that is a problem, then maybe flying short-haul / multi-sector is not for you?


You remind me of OCB,looking at technicalities rather than the "big picture". And you may wish to deny this to yourself, or whomever else you wish to impress, but the habits among certain crews is well known in the community. You may wish to close your eyes to these things, and pretend they'll just go away. I won't. I have no axe to grind, on the other hand I am not a member of the silent service.

I will not do the searching for you, but go back through the library right here. From the top of my mind there was 2 or 3 crews in the US and recently, and the LH guy in HEL springs to mind. Perhaps they were/are all innocent, never the less brought themselves in a situation where they came under suspecion. Merely bringing one in a situation that may be suspect is stupidity made large in this business. But you already know that don't you?

Hotel Charlie
28th Jan 2003, 13:12
Flip Flop Flyer

Poor thing! Still missing the point I see!


I´m not sure You meen 0.02 promille (0.002%) cause I don´t believe that is messurable at all. They do have problems messuring 0.02 percent accuratly! But to your Q yes it is possible that som things you eat can start to produce alcohol after beeing consumed. This winter they had to shot an elk (moose) in a norweagian neighbourhood for beeing out of control. It had been eating apples in a garden that had started to yeast in its tommy, makeing it severly drunk and thereby not afraid of people thus starting to attac kids and cars.
So from now on guys: no fruit, no chocholatemints no sourdough bread no nothing just water.:eek:

28th Jan 2003, 13:45
Flip Flop

The point is: we are talking about a situation where consuming a only a small amount of alcohol will end up putting you at or just over the 0.2 promille limit the morning after, yet that amount is highly unlikely to render anyone 'unfit'.

There are a great number of other stressors that have a far greater detrimental effect on the 'fitness', performance and ability of pilots to do their jobs....

It is an extraordinarily unusual job....as are those of the guys and girls in ATC.....

More allowance must be made for some semblance to the way others outside of the industry including your friends and family live their lives.

The constant erosion of terms and conditions, reduction of rest periods and increases in hours all mean that as pilots, crews, and ATC - or for that matter anybody working in a safety-critical environment - we have increasing levels of stress + pressure.

What i have is a job that makes it very difficult to live anything like a normal life when i have time off downroute...

As quality of life in the job deteriorates, so does flightsafety....

28th Jan 2003, 13:47
Interesting to compare this discussion with the regular banter about duty hours and fatigue. Fatigue is bad and airlines are all very naughty for making you work long hours, but here we have contributors who think alcohol levels above the legal minimum are not only unavoidable but acceptable - some even going so far as to suggest it enhances performance!:eek:

Can we at least try and get some consistency into the debate. Alcohol and fatigue are both bad, and nobody should be encouraging a situation where crews are working under the influence of either.

The law is the law (and it may even be an ass sometimes), but everybody knows the limits and you are pretty dumb if you put yourself into a situation where you fall foul of them. Only you make the decision to drink before you know you are on duty, so if you get caught - tough luck. Frankly I don't see the need to be drinking when you're working myself.

You may not 'feel' drunk at that level, but 'feeling' has nothing to do with it. We wouldn't defend pilots breaking the minima on approaches or otherwise jeopardising passengers and crews, so why the sudden tolerance of pilots who may or may not be operating with illegal levels of alcohol?

28th Jan 2003, 13:55
We recently had a debate in our medical staff association covering all the issues raised by these posts. The patterns of work in hospital medicine have many similarities to the aviation world. We rejected a "zero tolerance" policy to alcohol on the grounds that reasonable intake (driving limit) should not have any significant impact upon performance. Furthermore, as our hepatologist (liver doctor) pointed out, being denied red wine in moderation (2 units or so/day) can actually have a detrimental effect upon one's longevitiy, particularly in relation to the major killers ischaemic heart disease and stroke.

What is needed surely is a common sense policy, universally applied across States which everyone can feel comfortable with.

28th Jan 2003, 14:21

Excellent post, at this rate the way certain individuals advocate living our lives for us, none of us will be around to enjoy our retirement.

I rest my case.

28th Jan 2003, 14:58

You are using holier than thou as some sort of insult. I've sat in pubs and drunk alcohol-free beer. It's not that difficult. There are hoards of people reading PPRuNE who would die for the honour of being a commercial pilot. So don't tell me I'm some sort of pathetic individual if I say pilots should absolutely be alcohol-free when they fly. What's the point in banging on about safety if you then willfully degrade your own performance. As yet nobody has countered my point that half a pint of beer has measurable adverse effects on pilot performance. Underlying this discussion is the feeling that lot of people have - that being slightly under the influence is neither here nor there and just part of life's rich tapestry. I'm not holier than anyone else. I'm just not self-deluded.

Issues of fatigue and legal jurisdiction are red herrings. The question is should an ordinary professional pilot believe in being sober, or indeed, should he obey his airline's rules?

As for spurious readings, I doubt this can happen but more to the point I would lay money that the pilot concerned had acted inadvisably. It's extremely unlikely this sequence of events would have occurred following a mouthwash. In fact I'd wager he'll turn out to be rather more than the 0.2 figure.

Flip Flop Flyer
28th Jan 2003, 15:52
Sorry mate, will have to disagree.

If your chosen occupation severly impacts the way you wish to live your private life, then in my humble opinion either your occupation or private life needs a change of direction.

Being a pilot, as you obviously know, is not your regular mon-to-friday 9-to-5 kind of thing. As such, you can not readily expect to have the same possibilites as one working office hours, just as a "standard" office worker can not expect to have rostered days off on week days. I am sorry, but I have no sympathy if that leaves pilots in less advantageous positions from time to time. There are other advantages you have over 9-to-5 people, so exploit them to the fullest.

Break the rules, you risk getting caught. If you're caught, don't come crying "the rules are stupid". You knew what they were, and by breaking them you put yourself in a position where you may face severe repercussions.

Hotel Charlie
28th Jan 2003, 16:15
Flip Flop Flyer and twistedenginestarter,
You´re both twisted! Nobody on this thread has said they accept drunks flying. We are though discussing media blowing this totally out of proportion and that the legislators (pencil pushers) are passing laws that turn ordinary people into criminals. Had it been that 0.02% did affect your performance in a negative way I´d be all for the law. But it does not. It´s accutally been shown that performance did increase with a BAC at 0.05% in simulator tests.
Twist you claim that a pint of beer adversly effects your performance. Where do you get that from? Self experienced or what!

Max Angle
28th Jan 2003, 16:18
It's not that difficult. There are hoards of people reading PPRuNE who would die for the honour of being a commercial pilot. I am sure that there are, and to be honest they are welcome to it. It felt like an honour 9-10 years ago but I don't think you will find many of us in the UK who still think it is.

28th Jan 2003, 16:25
As yet nobody has countered my point that half a pint of beer has measurable adverse effects on pilot performance.

Evidence please.

PPRuNe Dispatcher
28th Jan 2003, 17:39
I have no idea if the body can produce .02 Promille as a result of naturally produced alcohol, however at least two scientific papers have been written on the subject.

Lindiger, W., Taucher, J., Jordan, A., and Vogel, W. Endogenous production of methanol after the consumption of fruit. "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research", 1997, 21, 939-943

Phillips, M., Greenberg, J., and Martinez V., Ostrovsky, Y. M. Endogenous ethanol -- its metabolic, behavioral and biomedical significance. "Alcohol," 1986, 3, 239-247.


28th Jan 2003, 18:01

ok...it would be interesting to expand this discussion.....would you mind specifying which of the points in my previous post you disagree with?

btw...i am certainly not advocating that one breaks the rules...

I'm trying to put just one issue into context....
You mentioned the importance of the 'big picture' yourself...


28th Jan 2003, 20:33
I was always a big believer in pprunes open policy on members. There have been some subjects in the past where lay people have brought something to the party but not, I fear, very recently.

There are hoards of people reading PPRuNE who would die for the honour of being a commercial pilot. So don't tell me I'm some sort of pathetic individual

Oh dear, perhaps those hoards would like to explain why, if its such a fab job our divorce, alcoholism and early death rates are at the levels they are?

Number of people killed by drunk drivers in the UK since 1980 - 20 000 (yes thats 20 thousand http://www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk/drinkdrive/).
Number of commercial aviation accidents caused by drink since WW2 - 0.

Why dont you go and do something worthwhile, like shopping your family member who regularly drinks and drives? (we all have one) And leave people trying to do a job you so clearly have little understanding of to do their job to the best of their ability.

28th Jan 2003, 22:27
Alcohol is byproduct of normal metabolism. At the moment the Atkins diet, consisting of high protein content but no carbohydrate, and popularised by various Hollywood celebs including Jennifer Aniston, is very popular. If you remain on this diet for a long time you produce a higher amount of ketone bodies which result in smelly breath and the possibility that you may test positive on a breath test. If you have certain undiagnosed medical conditions you may test positive. I will investigate these further tomorrow since my degree was a while ago, but tonight will drink wine because I will not have the opportunity for another 2 weeks.

Bengt Engel
28th Jan 2003, 23:21
hello everyone!

no news on the blood test yet huh?

well, lets not judge him just yet....

regarding the alcohol level in your blood and fatigue...

lets say Mr Engel gets sh!te faced on saturday night, a few long island's under his belt....I might be legally fit to fly say, around 17.00 hours the next day and I might be able to drive my car to work but if some tricky situation arises will I be able to cope with it? we all know the way we feel the day after, so I might have a legal limit but I'm still fatigued...???

and yada yada yada. ;)

BTW, good posts by Danny and FFF, DON'T DO IT...

and bumblebee, I feel so sorry for you not being able to go to the bank on the lunch hour, have you ever stopped to think about if that office guy might not feel so lucky...maybe you could change....

Hotel Charlie
29th Jan 2003, 07:17
Bengt Engel,

What are you trying to say?

Flip Flop Flyer
29th Jan 2003, 07:31
In short, your post seemed to indicate that you feel entitled to enjoying the same possibilites as non-pilots working 9-to-5, i.e. go to the pub after work and finish off a few pints or 10.

In my opinion that is not an option if you have to work the next day, not as a pilot, train driver, ATCO, doctor etc. Some occupations leave you disadvantaged in some respects, being a pilot is one of them. However, as I posted earlier, there are other advantages that your regular 9-to-5 bloke doesn't have.

I may very well have misunderstood you, if so you have my apologies.

29th Jan 2003, 09:14

In short, your post seemed to indicate that you feel entitled to enjoying the same possibilites as non-pilots working 9-to-5, i.e. go to the pub after work and finish off a few pints or 10.

Sorry i think you misinterpreted, or maybe I was a bit vague? I was just trying to illustrate that pilots' working lives are very far removed from the way 95% of other people live.

Personally, I certainly do not feel entitled to go out on the **** any night I want to....and that is not what i meant.......
As it stands, the 0.2promille limit prevents one from having even just one or two beers - (we are not talking about 10...) or glasses of wine with dinner the evening before, without putting one's licence and career at risk.

It's all very well having very restrictive regulations - (we are talking about a limitation that is 25% of the UK drink-drive limit). I am quite happy to accept them, but if we are to have them they have to be looked at in context. Issues such as proposed increases in duty hours limitations are far more serious. The first place those hours will come from are rest periods...I find that ironic.

What is needed is a sensible balance- something that we presently do not have.

rgds Bumblebee

Bengt Engel, errrr mate.......I think you totally missed the point. Hejdo

29th Jan 2003, 09:57
lets say Mr Engel gets sh!te faced on saturday night, a few long island's under his belt

Not what anybody is advocating.

Absurd, puritanical limits are completely unnecessary.

The world is in the grip of faceless bureaucrats and self-serving politicians legislating to take more and more control of our lives, aided by the sensationalist gutter press and television quoting uninformed, ill-educated 'public opinion'.

I have no argument if a real issue is being addressed in a rational, sensible manner.

Like so many issues today that is not the case. We have absurd legislation that achieves nothing but does cause much disquiet and difficulty for the average law and rule abiding individual.

I am sick of it.

The pious, unverifiable and sweeping assertions evident on this thread are evidence of the malais afflicting today's society.

29th Jan 2003, 10:11
Was trolling for informed technical info on naturally occurring alcohol and found this which stopped me dead.
To me it seems to say that not only fruit but also aspartame used as a sugar replacement is a potential licence loser.
It has been shown that the ingestion of a moderate amount of fruit such as a 3-5 apples or oranges causes approximately 0.75 grams of methanol to be released into the body (Lindinger 1997). Such a daily intake throughout the day (or equivalent amount from juices) is approximately equivalent to the amount of methanol absorption seen in workplace exposure that has lead to the development of methanol toxicity symptoms (Frederick 1984, Kingsley 1954-55, Kavet 1990). In other words it is approximately equivalent to working five days per week in air with a methanol concentration of 260 mg/m3. This methanol air concentration is higher than found in a methanol-laden chemical plant (120 mg/m3) (Heinrich 1982) and a methanol-laden printing shop (~140 mg/m3) (Baumann 1979).
Absorbed Methanol From 1.5 kg Fruit (or juice equiv) During Day

750 mg of methanol (from fruit) * 7 days / 70 kg
= 75 mg/kg/week of methanol absorption.
Absorbed Methanol From 260 mg/m3 Air Exposure During Workweek

The formula used to calculate methanol inhaled in the
Baumann (1979) study was discussed by Kavet (1990):
(260 mg/m3 * 6.67 m3/workday * 5 workdays * 60 absorption
rate) / 70 kg
= 74 mg/kg/week of methanol absorption.
0.75 grams (750 mg) of methanol obtained from fruit is equivalent to the amount of methanol obtained from drinking 0.45 liters of brandy (40% ethanol) containing 0.5% methanol (Lindinger 1997). This amount of methanol without a protective factor such as ethanol would qualify as a "significantly methanol-contaminated beverage" (Lindinger 1997).

The article goes on in detail but if 5 apples equals .45 litres of brandy and the most common sweetner has the same affect we need to know more.
Hope this link works

Captain Airclues
29th Jan 2003, 10:18
Just for the record, this guy was within both the JAR limit (JAR-OPS 1.085) and the FAA limit (FAR 91.17). Both of these limits have been established by medical experts after many months of debate and after having reviewed all of the research documents on the subject.


29th Jan 2003, 11:08
<<As it stands, the 0.2promille limit prevents one from having even just one or two beers - (we are not talking about 10...) or glasses of wine with dinner the evening before, without putting one's licence and career at risk.>>

Not sure about this?

"Old Language" I appreciate, but
1 Pint = 2 units
1 Glass of Wine = 1 Unit
UK Drink Drive Limit about 5 units.

Body expends ~1 unit / hour.

So given no drinking in 8 hours prior report, in theory you could have 8 units (=4 Pints), and still be clear under any ruling i.e. nothing left from the beers. What's there due to other factors seems to be of legitmate concern however...

Add in some safety factor, 2 pints still seems fine... (for blood levels - individual legislation might specify otherwise)

Where has my maths gone wrong??


Flip Flop Flyer
29th Jan 2003, 11:41
Fair enough. By the way, English was never my first, or even second, language so it's more than likely I missed your point to some extent. As the previous poster pointed out, having a beer or two early in the previous evening should not leave you over the limit. Any man, or woman, should be entitled to a landing beer. It just seems that some, though not necessarily the Nigel who sparked this thread, has a problem limiting themselves to just one or two drinks, or to call it quits in time.


Don't know who rained on your parade mate, but it sure sounds as if you got an axe to grind. I will agree that 0.02% is not a lot, in fact it's very little. However, if the rules says 0.02% then that's what you got to relate to. By all means, fight the rules anyway you can, but until such time that you have sucessfully turned the rules around you'd better live by them.

29th Jan 2003, 11:42
So, what exactly are we talking about?

Let say you report for duty at 0600. Last drink at 2200, using the 8 hour rule (regulations regarding alcohol and flying differs from company to company, where I work, the rule says 12 hours).
The average man burns 0.15 Promille pr hour, so to be absolute sober, your promille at 2200 must be 1.2 or less. For you to be at 0.2 or less (this seems to be the industry standard in Europe), your promille must be 1.4 or less 8 hours before. 1.4, and NOT on the rise.
Now, 1.4 promille is not something you get after 2 glasses of wine or 2 pints of beer. At 1.4 promille you are fairly drunk.

I know there are exceptions to the rule, some burn faster, some burn less (like me). Your body mass, sex, amount of food eaten, etc, will affect how drunk you get. It's up to US to take these factors into account, and to be on the safe side.

Fatigue is very real, and very dangerous. Drunk the night before flying will not improve your fitness, even at 0 promille

Mouth rinse may trigger a breath test, but not a blood test.

The Swedish rule, with max 0.2 promille 8 hours BEFORE duty, means, in most cases, no drinking during layovers in Sweden. I don't like this rule, I think it's way over the top, but it's there. It's real. Beware!

As to alcohol being a booster for your performance, yes, it's true. Small amounts may calm your nerves and enhance performance with regards to certain precision sports, such as shooting, etc. If you need to calm your nerves before flying, maybe it's time to find another job?

And to you journos out there, it's not illegal to get your facts right before you start the press. People’s lives, careers, and reputations are at stake. Printing a microscopic apology at page 22, 4 weeks after you crucified someone on the front page, is simply not the way to go.

29th Jan 2003, 12:19
However, if the rules says 0.02% then that's what you got to relate to. By all means, fight the rules anyway you can, but until such time that you have sucessfully turned the rules around you'd better live by them.

You do make some assumptions. Nowhere have I claimed that I don't abide by the rules.

In fact I hardly drink anyway!

29th Jan 2003, 12:40
Merely bringing one in a situation that may be suspect is stupidity made large in this business. But you already know that don't you?

So, not only am I rightly expected to ensure my fitness to fly, but also to second guess the vagaries of the local test kit and enforcers. Come on.... I’d better shave before going out for fear of resembling a burglar!

but here we have contributors who think alcohol levels above the legal minimum are not only unavoidable but acceptable
And your evidence for this statement?

No one here is advocating flying whilst under the influence. The industry has no history of a problem with this, and is now faced with being criminalized, not because pilots are attempting to do that, but because the clever instrument makers have managed to detect ever lower levels of alcohol.

It’s the goalposts which are moving, not us. I find it particularly sad that it is the younger of our contributors (a guess, I know, but I think I’m right) who seem more likely to accept the rule rather than standing up for common sense.

Yes we must obey the rules, but that doesn’t mean that challenging them is wrong.

Bengt Engel
29th Jan 2003, 13:32
Bumble ,

this must be ironic, I missed your whole point, during late nite post, with a few beers under my belt....I'm deeply sorry if I was out of line....


Hotel Charlie
29th Jan 2003, 13:32
Arkroyal, M.Mouse and the likes,

Excellent posts! Nice to see there still are people how are able to think without the goverment telling them what to think!
There is still hope for human kind!:cool:

29th Jan 2003, 17:11
I am utterly disgusted by the paradox of people complaining of journalist's shabbiness and then doing exactly the same. Three times I have read here that in France pilots drink at meals while on duty etc.
I do work in a French airline and NEVER I have witnessed such an act nor anything similar.
It is true that the French know how to enjoy a good wine or cognac, but the secret who allows them to do it (along with enjoying fatty food like cheese and stay slim) is that they
taste more than gobble down. A glass of good wine instead of 6 pints of lager per night.
Watch for the beam in your eye, folks...

Max Angle
29th Jan 2003, 18:06
No one here is advocating flying whilst under the influence. The industry has no history of a problem with this, and is now faced with being criminalized, not because pilots are attempting to do that, but because the clever instrument makers have managed to detect ever lower levels of alcohol. Well said sir.

29th Jan 2003, 19:32
Agreed Maxangle

Airclues; whilst I agree with what you say about UK limits etc, it boils down to a case of law. If said pilot was over the limits in the country concerned AND those limits are enforceable, then he is guilty of a crime. It seems like BA have tried to warn their pilots about this country's laws and if he (a big IF, until proved guilty) chose to disregard them, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on. We might sympathise, but that won't stop a conviction or the right of a conviction!

Example: You smuggle drugs in many countries, you get the death penalty. It may not be humane and it isn't what would happen in the UK, but the warnings are there and if you choose to ignore them, you do so at your own peril. A defense consisting of, 'well, I'll get 10 years jail at home', won't wash! It's a harsh example, but so is life in many countries.

Edited for spellos that were obvious; there might be more!

Captain Airclues
29th Jan 2003, 22:18

The JAR 0.02 limit is not intended to allow a few beers the night before. The figure was decided after allowing for any endogenous alcohol and any instrument error in the breathalyser. It is for these same reasons that the Swedes, who have a zero tolerence policy to drink driving, have a 0.02 limit on the roads.
It would be most unlikely for even the most abstinate person to produce a reading of 0.00.


29th Jan 2003, 23:28
>>It would be most unlikely for even the most abstinate person to produce a reading of 0.00<<

I'm not exactly abstinent and that's what I've blown each time I've been tested over the past several years. I realize that alcohol testing and locked cockpit doors are novelties in the UK but we've lived with both for quite a while in the States.

All the arguments about mouthwash and ripe fruit have been tried without much success in pilot hearings in the U.S. Usually the best defense has been to hope for a paperwork irregularity like a missing signature or wrong date on a form. A couple of pilots where I work have beat the rap due to faulty technical procedures in the testing. If that doesn't work, check into rehab and demand your job back since as an alcoholic you have a disability that the employer must accomodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here's a recent example of the "hop into rehab" maneuver:

"Two America West pilots accused of being drunk when they tried to fly a jetliner have been in alcohol rehabilitation, prosecutors said. Lawyers for the pilots, Thomas Porter Cloyd and Christopher Hughes, requested a hearing to ask a judge to delay their Aug. 1 [2002] court appearance because the pilots will be in rehabilitation until Aug. 2, said Ronald Ramsingh, an assistant state prosecutor. The pilots entered the 28-day program in Arizona after they were arrested July 1 in Miami, Mr. Ramsingh said." - from the New York Times July 23, 2002

30th Jan 2003, 10:39
The instrument maker made an instrument which can detect a pilot reporting for duty with alcohol in the blood, and HE is to blame????

Scandihooligans, the system, the law, instrument makers, who is the next one to blame? The butler?

30th Jan 2003, 13:37
Whilst we all agree that we should not report for work inder the influence of alcohol, not even with the residual alcohol from a minimal intake during the off-duty period before the 8/12/24 hour threshold, is it not possible to have 0.2 promille detectable in the blood which has been produced metabollically?

It has been established that the 0.2 promille (0.02%) limit has been arbitarilly set as the limit due to the sensitivity of the detectors. What I am trying to find out is if it is possible that someone can be over that 0.2 promille level even though they have never had an alcoholic drink in their life?

Information has been uncovered that there may be more to this case than meets the eye. Whilst investigations are still ongoing precise details cannot be revealed. Suffice it to say that there is growing evidence that a 'dirty tricks' campaign may have been and may still be underway against the pilot concerned. Having revealed this much I can state that there are likely to be some managers in BA who should be more careful about what and where they post on PPRuNe.

If the evidence that is being collated proves to be correct and so far it appears to be so, then it will not be the first time that subterfuge and 'dirty tricks' have been used by some people in BA management. BALPA will be given access to the information as the pilot concerned is not only a member but holds a position as a BA rep. Those of you familiar with this kind of subterfuge will remember the cases of Capt. Glen Stuart and Capt. Stuart Clapson.

Nuff said... for now!:suspect:

30th Jan 2003, 18:32

It sounds very intriguing and if there is evidence of some form of subtefuge then I hope the person concerned will get the full support he deserves.

I also hope that if that is the case, BALPA has had sufficient changes in management and policy in recent years to give that support. I remember only too well the case of poor Glen Stuart, who IMHO did not get the support from BALPA that he deserved. That was a black day in BALPA's past and one where those responsible should feel eternally shamed and contrite about.

31st Jan 2003, 00:31
:cool: Long time no see, yup I was the Capt in SCN, and if I remember rightly You gave me two minature brandies and I did take the breathaliser and it registered 0!, so much for Dan's Brandy eh?, and yes the German police did then go away 'happy' with a statement!.

31st Jan 2003, 05:32
This was discussed at length in Norway, when they introduced 0.2 promille for driving. I seem to recall that, if you eat 2 loafs of freshly baked bread, yes you can get a level of alcohol in your blood. Same if you, like a moose (elk), eat 20 kilo of half rotten fruit.
In general, a normal healthy person, on a normal diet will not produce any alcohol.
A number of intakes may give a false positive on a breath test, but will not show up on a blood test. Indeed, if your breath test is in doubt, the police in Norway will wait for 30 minutes, and then perform a new test. If still around the limit, a blood test will be taken. This will normally take care of mouth rinse, candy with some alcohol in it, etc. The traffic police that is, don't know how they would handle a pilot with 0.2.

It's a sad world if the rest Danny is hinting at, is true.:eek:

1st Feb 2003, 09:11
Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports that the blood test showed that the BA pilot had 0.59 promille alcohol in his blood - way above the preliminary 0.2 promille.

One reason for the big difference might be that the breathalizer equipment used by swedish police often only show if the alcohol level is above the legal 0.2 promille or not.

If so, further tests, like a blood test, must be done. That test will then be used as evidence in court.

So, it seems that he was drunk after all...

Bengt Engel
1st Feb 2003, 10:47
me to read it....this is very sad....I'm getttin scared, how can anyone consider checkin in with this amount of alcohol in his or her blood????

I don't know if he was framed anymore...can we get a second opinion Danny? you seem to be on top of those things...anything in the UK papers???


In swedish....

Lou Scannon
1st Feb 2003, 11:36
An article referring to the Arlanda breath- test now appears in the Telegraph Travel section.
I have started a thread under "Could your pilot be over the limit" which is the headline to the item.

Oops. Danny seems to have binned that thread leaving one about "Are all UK pilots drunk?" on the same subject

1st Feb 2003, 12:30
Translation of the swedish newspaper article.

Svenska Dagbladet

Unclear if drunk pilot will be charged

The CA captain who was stopped just before start at Arlanda last sarurday, was under the influence of alcohol. The result of the blood test that came in yesterday shows 0.59 promille.
But Björn Frithiof, the public prosecutor who leads the investigation, has not decided if he will or will not bring charges.
- Off the cuff, I feel that the action is so serious that charges are indicated. But here is a possibilty to refrain from bringing charges, since the pilot concerned is not swedish and lives abroad. One can also require him to be charged in England.-
Aviation rules do not state any promille limits and the concept of of "drunk flying" does not exist. But someone who is so much under the influence of alcohol or other substances when working on a flight deck that he "can not execute his duties in a safe manner" can get up to two years in prison, or be fined when the transgression is of a lesser nature.

1st Feb 2003, 13:12

"....and the concept of of "drunk flying" does not exist."

See?.. thats way we are all drunk, all the time, because its legal.. so there!!..

Another great statement by idiots..

1st Feb 2003, 13:17
If he was 0.59, then it's a fair cop.

With the UK driving limit at 0.8, he most certainly was not Drunk at 0.59 however.

Flying Lawyer
1st Feb 2003, 20:26
Reading Flapsforty's translation of the Swedish newspaper article "Unclear if drunk pilot will be charged", I suppose there's some small comfort in seeing that Britain isn't the only country with trashy newspapers who don't allow facts to get in the way of a sensationalist story. Drunk??? :rolleyes:
But depressing, regardless of country, when people in authority release information which they know will fuel 'trial by newspaper'.

If the Captain is prosecuted, evidence of his blood/alcohol reading will be adduced in a Court. That is the proper time and place to release such information into the public domain.
If he isn't prosecuted, then the information should not be released, except in confidence to the relevant aviation authority and/or his employers.
In my view, the authorities should not have released any information whatsoever about the incident except to his company. The proper answer to any journalists' questions should have been "No Comment" or, at the very most, a short formal statement simply confirming that "A pilot has been arrested and investigations are continuing."

1st Feb 2003, 23:16
This is from the FAA Office of Aviation Medicine:

"The number of serious errors committed by pilots dramatically increases at or above concentrations of 0.04% blood alcohol. This is not to say that problems don't occur below this value. Some studies have shown decrements in pilot performance with blood alcohol concentrations as low as the 0.025%".

This might be related to this from the NIAAA:

In a typical study of the effects of pilot impairment, aircraft pilots completed eight sessions of simulated flight between San Francisco and Los Angeles in a Boeing 727-232 simulator (16). Planning and performance errors, procedural errors, and failures of vigilance each increased significantly with increasing BAC. Serious errors increased significantly at the lowest BAC, 0.025 percent, compared with performance at 0 percent BAC.

2nd Feb 2003, 05:09
To be fair, the headline is better translated into "Intoxicated pilot"(my opinion).
He is actually saying that Sweden does not have any limits with regard to flying and drinking. Either he doesn't know what he is talking about, or the rules have changed dramatically in Sweden.

If this nigel is an average guy, he must have been close to 2 promille when he went to bed 8-9 hours before. If he could find his bed.
As to releasing information, as far as I know, his name has not been printed anywhere. I don't really see the problem.

Hotel Charlie
2nd Feb 2003, 06:58

He is probably right. The LAW does not give any specified limit therefore hard to PROSECUTE due to BAC only. The regulations specify 0.02%. Now this is braking the rules and the CAA may revoke his license but the prosecutor can not do anything to him when only looking at the BAC. Any lawyeres here to verify this?

3rd Feb 2003, 16:21
Unfortunately one of the lower end of the gutter press, for reasons best known to themselves, have published the pilots's name and age.

No doubt they will apologise on the front page in big letters if they've got it wrong!!!