View Full Version : Could your pilot be drunk? Or just press fabrication?

1st Feb 2003, 04:58
The Daily Telegraph has received a disturbing report of alcohol abuse by commercial airline pilots in Britain.

The report followed an incident last month in which a British Airways pilot at Arlanda airport near Stockholm was held by Swedish police and breathalysed as he prepared to fly to London.

Airport staff called police after they allegedly saw him swaying as he walked to where his Airbus A-320 plane was waiting. British Airways said it had not yet received the test results but if the pilot was found to have been drunk he would face dismissal.

This week a taxi driver who regularly takes pilots and crew to Stansted airport in Essex contacted The Daily Telegraph to say he is "always picking up airline crew and pilots from bars and taking them straight to work".

"You can smell the alcohol on them and sometimes they have trouble getting out of the car," he said. "Once a pilot fell down some stairs he was so drunk."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was "very concerned" at the report.

"The onus is on pilots and crew to present themselves fit for work. People should come to us and report any problems," he said.

There are 10,000 commercial pilots in the UK, of which 12 to 15 a year lose their licence because of alcohol abuse, according to the CAA. Under British law, airline crew should "not be under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent to impair capacity".

Most major airlines, including BA, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Air France, stipulate that pilots should not drink alcohol for eight hours before starting work. There is, however, no legally specified limit.

That will change with the passage of the Railways and Transport Safety Bill, which is due to become law later this year.

Under the new law, pilots will only be allowed to have up to 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood: a quarter of the 80mg limit for road-users.

As with drivers, the law will allow for breathalysing where there "are grounds for reasonable suspicion" but not for random testing. The law will also apply to cabin crew and air traffic controllers.

A spokeswoman for the CAA, which has long campaigned for a change in the law, said that the new bill represented a significant improvement.

But the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) said the new law could go even further. "Random testing would be a sensible precaution," said Simon Evans, the council's chief executive.

Those in favour of an even tougher law are also concerned by the fact that a pilot who has lost his driving licence as a result of drink-driving will still be entitled to fly a plane.

The pilots' union, BALPA, said the incidence of pilots flying while drunk was "very rare". The union welcomed the new law but said it was opposed to the idea of random testing for alcohol.

If you have information on pilots drinking heavily before flying, contact the Civil Aviation Authority on 01293 567171, write to us at The Daily Telegraph Travel Desk, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DT, or email [email protected].
Report filed: 01/02/2003


1st Feb 2003, 07:36
Trust me British Pilots are always drunk.

They are in the Bar at Heathrow, drunk as skunks on turnaround. It is a Gin and Tonic for Breakfast. ON THE FLIGHT DECK. It is all true.

On night stops, well... just party party. And the cabin crew are so difficult to get out of your bed. They are always begging me to sleep with them. I say "after I finish the bottle of whiskey darling". Last week I drank ten pints of beer before pickup, slept with all the girls, and boys! on the crew, then crawled my way to the aircraft. No problem.

You must believe the press, they never lie or distort.

Your post disgusts me just like the article disgusts me.

1st Feb 2003, 08:18
I understand that the well known journal 'Private Eye' has a forum specifically for taxi drivers ( page 18 in the current issue). Is the torygraph perhaps trying to set up a rival forum? Alternatively, I seem to remember that BALPA set up an award some years ago for fatuous drivel. Does anyone know what were the criteria?

1st Feb 2003, 08:48
I remember a rather difficult situation a few weeks ago when one of our pilots turned up for an 04:45 IBZ completely sober!!

As Cabin Crew we were uncertain where we stood on this. Actually, as Cabin Crew we were uncertain how to stand at all following a long night in the hotel bar.

We said nothing however, and kept our concerns to ourselves. After landing, the Pilot's hair had turned completely white and he was shaking. Apparently he had never landed sober before, and the experience had proved traumatic - he resigned shorly after.

1st Feb 2003, 12:41
I know of one pilot who gets so scared at the prospect of flying that he needs a swifty before turning up at the airport. I know this to be the case with many of the crews that I fly with as well. In fact sometimes the whole crew is so p**sed by the end of the day that we just can't wait to leap into bed with each other. I have heard of many instances where this has happened at different airlines, including a well known ,large British based airline. It has been known, I have it on good authority from someone ,I know who works in a hotel, that once a crew turned up at reception smelling of alcohol and immediately went to bed, falling over each other as they went down the corridor.

The good thing about working for a newspaper is that you can write whatever you please. No-one is going to stop you and you don't even have to name your sources. You wield a lot of power because ignorant people (the mob) believe what they read. This is a very good way to create hysteria, in much the same way as you can create hysteria about child abuse, the spread of disease or defective beef. Many people are frightened enough of flying without the belief that their pilot might be drunk. I know you've got to make copy and it's your livelyhood but please try to calm it down a bit.

1st Feb 2003, 12:49
As a foreigner, I Take it then, from the posts above that the Telegraph has not won many awards for journalistic excellence?

1st Feb 2003, 13:00
Ah yes... the press! :yuk:

Obviously a fortune has been invested by the Telegraph Travel Section into an undercover, investigative report by a team of crack (addicted?) journalists based on hard evidence into this topic. :hmm: Shame on the tabloid editors who didn't pick up on it first!

So, here we have an un-named taxi driver who claims he is "always picking up drunk pilots and taking them to work". If he was so concerned why didn't he reported these pilots to the appropriate authorities? Probably because the journalist (this term is used so loosely that 'lying, no-hoper' would probably be more accurate) who invented this cabbie, and his/her editor were desparate for anything in order to fabricate some 'news'.

Just look at the facts as presented: 12-15 professional pilots a year out of over 10,000 lose their licence because of alcohol abuse according ot the CAA. That works out to 0.15%. Just to clarify for the mentally challenged journalists amongst us... that is nought point one five of one percent nationally. Therefore, this unnamed 'cabbie' (more likely figment of the journalists drink and drug abused mind) who is "always picking up airline crew and pilots from bars and taking them straight to work" just happens to beat odds that would make a lottery winner seem unlucky. Assuming that that by 'always' he means once a week (and that's being generous) that one of the crews he picks up is from a bar and inebriated enought to be noticable, that means... errr... you work out the odds, I'm too drunk and I've got to go to work in five minutes. :rolleyes:

How a rag like the Telegraph could let an article such as this be published without checking facts or maintaining standards of accuracy as laid down by their news depratment is surprising... or is it? As has often been stated here on PPRuNe, most of the media never let the truth get in the way of a good story. A pity that some of their more talented and honest journalists are tainted by association.

If you have information on journalists twisiting facts and making up stories before publishing, contact the Press Complaints Commission (http://www.pcc.org.uk/) on 020 7353 3732 or write to The Daily Telegraph Travel Desk, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DT, or email [email protected] and point out how utterly barmy and pathetic they are! :\

Matt Braddock
1st Feb 2003, 13:57
I wouldn't be surprised if this story was hatched in a traffic jam on the M11 on Thursday night/Friday morning.

Picture the scene: poor old hack hails cabs from STN to go home to somewhere like Cambridge. Heavy snowfall blocks road and cab is caught in a mega 20 mile jam. After 14 hours of hearing the cabbie wittering on about famous stars he has had in the back of his cab the hack notices the meter has gone past Ł250.

"Oy", says the journo to the cabbie, "Have you got any good stories I can write about to make a few bob to offset the cost"?
"Well", says the cabbie, "I once took some pilots home after a party on their week off and they had had more than two shandies."

"Great, shock, horror" says the hack, his creative mind whirring. And the rest is....the basis for the nonsense we are reading today.

Surely if a normally accurate paper like the Telegraph had plenty of good evidence from the cabbie such as dates and times, names of aircrew, offices they were dropped at etc, they would have the basis for a sensible investigation and that wrongdoers would be rightfully exposed.

But it would appear that the cabbie has not even bothered to report his claims to the authorities at STN...I've certainly not heard of 'loads of pilots' being sacked for boozing.

Nice comments from Capt PPRuNe, but what exactly is a news depratment? Shome mishtake shurely?

1st Feb 2003, 14:05
"talented and honest journalists"....... does this statement represent 0.15% of journalists Danny?

1st Feb 2003, 14:14
I think he might have been the same cab driver who said to me the following: "actually if you stop with your car by the runway and you look at all these planes on the landing queue, you can see they slightly move left and right. That is because the pilot is so drunk he can't even keep the plane straight.".
In fact, as you can see, British pilots are crashing their jets each day all around the world, and BA, Virgin, etc (UK) have one of the worst safety record in the industry because of this alcohol problem.
Don't forget a missed approach is more catastrophic than the 11th of Sep!!! And each go around is caused by alcohol as pilots cannot judge distances under those effects!!!

From a disgusted foreigner.
Anyway journalists are all the same, not much difference in Europe: they just invent the "News"all the time just to increase sales. This is what they are paid for.

Notso Fantastic
1st Feb 2003, 14:23
This is all so tame. You people are juniors! I get soooo drunk on turnarounds, I've even been known to sleep with myself! Dare I say it, I even slept with my ex-wife on a few occasions, but I had to be really drunk as a skunk, to do that! Then I went for a CAA medical, and I even slept with the examiner (after getting him drunk too). Next time I get drunk (just before going on duty, and in uniform), I may even drive (even whilst drunk- that shows how drunk I will be!) past the Telegraph orifice where all those amazing investigative journalists live, and show my ample pimpled bottom out of the drivers window! And bark out of the window at the amazing Telegraph investigative journalists all with their noses pressed up against the panes! And then I go and fly celebrities like Tony Blair and ordinary people- see- I just don't care!
Well done Telegraph- can you go on losing readers like this for life? You see- I can make sure your now filthy rag is removed from all my aeroplanes (and I don't have to be drunk to do that!) as well as never spending any of my hard earned wonga left over after drinking all that hooch, on your filthy rag for the rest of my alcohol hazed life!

And I shall wait until this thread has run its course and send you all the comments in print.

1st Feb 2003, 14:32
Even when I am a passenger on a British carrier, anytime the pilot makes an announcement his voice is clearly the voice of a completely drunk person and all other passengers can witness this!! So many people decide to jump out of the windows.
When I have to leave the aircraft from the front door and the Captain is there to say "Good bye": clearly totally drunk.
Not always but most of the time.
Last time the Captain told me: where the hell have we landed?
I thanked God I had landed safely.
The cockpit smelled of alcohol too.

I am disgusted by this way of piloting aircrafts.
I will never fly again with a British carrier.

This is great journalism.
Please could you add to your article that I have seen an elephant flying.Thanks a lot.

Devils Advocate
1st Feb 2003, 17:30
Speaking of cabbies...... it reminds me that the next time one of these honest servants of the public drives me from MAN to LGW during the wee small hours, and I have to intervene to grab the steering wheel when he falls asleep at it ( which happened to me twice last summer ), I’ll exhibit no remorse when I shop him to the police as being unfit to drive through fatigue – albeit purely my own assessment of his condition; Now I wonder if I can sell that to a newspaper, possibly with a headline of “Killer cabbie tries to wipe out aircrew !” ?

and look what I came up with on the AXA PPP Healthcare site (http://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/html/health/factsheets/alcohol.htm) – a site constructed by medical professionals no less:
People at higher risk of becoming alcoholic are certain professions such as publicans, seamen, journalists and doctors.
Need I say more !

So, maybe the author of the article, Paul Miles, is nothing more than a pathetic whisky sodden hack, driven to the bottle by the mundanity of his sad little life which finds him wishing for journalistic glory, and yet all he can actually manage is to invent stories where stories aren’t.
I suppose that, in spite of the harm that such journalistic diarrhoea does to both our industry and our good name, he’s to be pitied - either that or his editor should give him a good kick up the a_rse and sends him off to cover some real news, hopefully somewhere dangerous where he can do less damage.

1st Feb 2003, 19:35
Is it any wonder that pilots are turning to the bottle. Lets look at the kind off problems they have had to endure over the last couple of years. And lets not forget that it is well known that people turn to the bottle for stress relief (mines a Jack Daniels please).

1 inch of snow and a major international airport closes for two days.

One morning of high winds at EGLL last November and it was carnage, baggage carts reported to be blowing done the "V" culdesac etc, not enough parking stands. I have been witness to the carnage activating 23 when crosswind was to high for 27 at Heathrow, 40 minutes waiting to cross 27L to get a stand and we were the lucky ones.

Mad legislation whereby you cant put your son on the jumpseat because he may represent a security risk, but a CAA ops inspector who you dont know from Adam, no problem.

General risk of mad terrorist trying to blow you out of the sky, either from within the cabin or from the top of airport car park with a shoulder launched SAM.

Minor glitch in ATC computer - chaos ensues all days. First lesson in systems redundancy I learnt in the Navy as a Fighter Controller is when the computer shits the bed, get out your chinagraph, dot your aircraft start writing things down and get on with it.

Longer working hours, erosion of T & C's, take overs, lay offs, increased cost of training

So its no wonder that everynow and then some poor pilot gets caught with a blood alchohol level equivalent to half a point of larger shandy drunk 12 hours ago.

No doubt when its proved the incident in Stockholm was caused by faulty breatheliser or mouth wash it will warent about 3 lines in the back pages of the tabliods.

1st Feb 2003, 19:55
I get the 'Times' on weekdays, but thought that the 'Weekend Telegraph' was better than the 'Times' on a Saturday. As far as I am concerned, the 'Telegraph' is now history and I shall be writing to tell them as much.

How dare they print such unsubstantiated rubbish!

Cheers to us all,

1st Feb 2003, 20:50
Your post disgusts me just like the article disgusts me.

Do you enjoy killing the messenger?
Relax, friend.
You might want to substitute "British" pilots and "Britain" for the US. (Would've been a better comeback).

On this side of the pond the reports and jurnos are'nt any better. Or, you're missing those? :)

Ignition Override
2nd Feb 2003, 05:15
The attempts on Pprune to provoke/bait or sucker in pilots are so transparent, and these probes are not necessarily begun by members of the press.

Maybe, if I had just flown over there between marriages, borrowed a British airline pilot uniform, and gotten merry with some lovely British FA's! I would have paid for the rounds of local lager, even the (dark) Corsendonk from Belgium.

'Trim' might have been much more available for some of us.

2nd Feb 2003, 06:51

You are not my friend.

That you should even ask the question means you cannot be a professional pilot. That you should even post that garbage means you thought there might be some truth in it. I would remind you that, you asked, "Could your pilot be drunk, or just Press fabrication".

I would also point out that the thread title has been toned down from your even more puerile first attempt.

So yes your post still disgusts me, just like the article.

Have a nice day.

2nd Feb 2003, 07:30
What's your problem, dude?
I only copied and pasted a typical "gem" from the UK paper/rag. Write to them if you do not like it and get a life.

I did not ask any questions. Merely rhetorical sentence and it was a title to the press write-up. Not mine.
I thought the article was ridiculous and plain out stupid. Go attack someone else, you'll not get much from this end anymore, junior.

Btw, the mods changed my original heading to this thread anyway.
So take it up with them.

You have a wonderful day too.

2nd Feb 2003, 09:38
I thought the article was ridiculous and plain out stupid

...and exactly where in your original post did you say this?

I have a life, you go play Microsoft Flight Sim.

Lou Scannon
2nd Feb 2003, 11:42
Gentlemen, gentlemen...

An article has been written that alleges Stansted Pilots regularly drink (in public) fall out of taxis dropping them off at the airport ,even fall down stairs in the terminal. And that they operate the aircraft when intoxicated.

Anyone connected with aviation in any way will recognise that none of this behaviour could possibly take place without the individual being suspended before he even reached the airplane steps.

The public do not know this and we owe it to the customers to disprove the allegations of the taxi-driver (If, indeed, he actually exists).

I intend to make it "Put up or shut up" time for Mr Paul Miles and have written to the paper. I suggest we all do the same but in a manner that will re-assure the travelling public that we are a responsible bunch of people.

Matt Braddock
2nd Feb 2003, 12:24
Absolutely spot on, Lou.

2nd Feb 2003, 13:14
I have provided a link to the Press Complaints Council in my previous post so feel free to contact them with your complaint.

Below is a copy of my email to them should any of you wish to add your own, feel free to use it as a template.
Dear Sir or Madam

I am writing to complain about the following publication: The Telegraph

On the date of: 1st February 2003

The Headline was: Could your pilot be over the limit?

My complaint details are as follows:

Based on clause 1 (i) of the code of practice, namely:

1 Accuracy
_i) Newspapers and periodicals must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material including pictures.

The article in question can be viewed electronically at:


Specifically, the journalist has used as the cornerstone of his article a quote by an unnamed and unidentified taxi driver which can be proved by official Civil Aviation Authority statistics to be a blatant lie. The quote by the taxi driver that he is "always picking up airline crew and pilots from bars and taking them straight to work" and "You can smell the alcohol on them and sometimes they have trouble getting out of the car," is obviously inaccurate, misleading and distorted.

If only 15 out of 10,000 UK professional pilots a year are losing their licences due to alcohol abuse, which equates to 0.15% of the workforce then how is it possible that this taxi driver is allegedly 'always' picking up drunk pilots? Furthermore, why hasn't the journalist bothered to question if the taxi driver is telling the truth? Surely if this taxi driver really existed he would have informed the authorities or at least the press at an earlier stage.

How the Telegraph can let an article such as this be published without checking facts or maintaining standards of accuracy as laid down by their news depratment is surprising.

Yours Sincerely

Danny Fyne
The Professional Pilots RUmour NEtwork

As for the luvvie who considers him/herself to be the editor of the Telegraph, I just sent them a link to this thread! :ooh:

2nd Feb 2003, 13:55
No doubt Mr Miles will be first to bring the public's attention to a fatigue related incident, but only if it happens on a "bad news day",


Simple really, all he and his lackeys want to do is outsell the other newspapers. It doesn't matter if they are posh papers like The Times or the gutter press.

Sales are money, their wages, and the don't appear to worry who they stuff to get there. That's why it is necessary to have a complaints' authority.


2nd Feb 2003, 13:58
As "Crime Stoppers" are offering Cash rewards for reporting drunk drivers....check out you cabbie and make the call!

2nd Feb 2003, 20:58
while you are all so busy shooting the messenger you seem to have forgotten the message - unpalatable as it may be to you.

The message from this recent incident, and the arrests last year of two crews in the USA, and the 'Dispatches' documentary and suspension/dismissal of several BA pilots in 2000 is that pilots have flown and continue to attempt to fly commercial aircraft when their capacity to do so has been significantly diminished by having ingested moderate to substantial quantities of alcohol within the 12 hours prior to flight. You all seem to be evading the issue - which is that the safety of commercial air transport has been and is being compromised by an admittedly small number of pilots who cannot or will not control their drinking habits.

The objective of the CAA and the airlines should be to ensure that no pilot ever reaches the flight deck with any alcohol in his/her system. Since Pilots are only human beings they will want to drink from time to time, just like most other normal mortals. However they have to be able to exercise a greater degree of self-discipline than many other professionals, to avoid their private drinking habits affecting their professional roles as pilots. Sadly it seems that a small minority are unable to do this. Why will BALPA not accept random testing and why will the CAA not mandate such testing now? Mark my words - it will happen one day in the UK - but sadly only after a major fatal accident enquiry has identified alcohol in the pilot's blood stream as a causal factor.

Those responsible pilots who know how to drink sensibly and who allow at least 12 hours bottle to throttle, will have nothing to fear. Those who cannot or will not heed the message need the added incentive of random testing to force them to comply, or to identify them early before they are involved in an incident, so they can be given the help they need to control their problem.

It has always seemed anomalous to me that train drivers and lorry drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol testing but pilots and captains of ships are not. They are all humain beings, are all fallible and can all cause death and destruction if not fully awake, fully alert and fully sober when performing their duties.

I expect I will get a sh*t load of abuse after this post but hope that instead I get some sensible and rational discussion of the issue of drugs and alcohol in relation to flight safety.

Pobody's nerfect

2nd Feb 2003, 21:06
It makes me so blo*dy angry to think the two main papers we hand out to passengers on BA aircraft are the Mail and Telegraph:mad: :mad: .

In future I'm going to hide these dirty rags and bring in copies of the 'Beano' and 'Roy of the Rovers' as the content is less fictonal
than these second rate 'rags' whose 'journos' are the ones who need to stop drinking to enable them to write something decent.

Can I urge all airline staff to STOP buying these two CR*P papers,
and don't offer them on board and make a small dent in their sales.
I will contact BA to see if we can change these two papers on the grounds that they are determined to further damage our industry.


2nd Feb 2003, 21:13
suspension/dismissal of several BA pilots in 2000

After a lengthy inquiry, examination of the original, and unedited takes. Exactly one BA pilot was sacked. The rest were reinstated.

The editor did a good stitch up job.

2nd Feb 2003, 21:17
Random breath tests for pilots may not be too far away in the UK. I came across this writeup.. From today.
Funny how these articles multiply...
Now, before anyone shoots the messenger or Mr/Mrs w00t puts words in my mouth, I will copy and paste what's printed. See the link.

10 pints before a flight Feb 2 2003


By Paul Malley, Sunday Mercury

A Midland pilot has lifted the lid on the boozing culture among British airline crews.

The senior captain, who does not want to be named, said pilots and cabin staff regularly drink heavily the night before going on duty - putting passenger lives at risk.

And he claimed the number of crew members ignoring the industry’s ‘zero-tolerance’ alcohol limit was likely to rocket as more turn to booze to cope with increased stress following September 11.

Last week it was revealed that British Airways pilot Simon Robinson, 53, was facing the sack after allegedly failing a breath test just minutes before he was due to fly a passenger jet from Sweden to London.

But the Midland pilot who contacted the Sunday Mercury and who works for a major British airline, said the shock case was just the tip of the iceberg.

“There is absolutely no excuse for drinking before duty,” he said. “The rule is that no booze should be consumed at least eight hours before work and you should only drink in moderation 24 hours before your shift starts.

“The airline industry is in a very precarious position. Airlines are struggling to make money and there have been huge staff cutbacks.

“People are being asked to work longer hours and the increased worry brought on by September 11 has made working in the industry more stressful.

“The problem of pilots and other crew drinking heavily is one that is likely to increase.”

He said that most heavy drinking went on during foreign stopovers, where crews stayed at same hotels and went to the same bars together.

“For many it is part of the culture to knock back eight to 10 pints, get two to three hours kip and then turn up for duty,” said the pilot. “I have seen it first hand.

Breath tests

“A few years ago when I was a first officer I refused to fly with one pilot who turned up at the airport in Paris at 6am, obviously the worse for wear.

“He had been drinking the previous night and didn’t go to bed until 4.15am.”

The Midland pilot is now calling for random breath tests of British pilots to be introduced, as already happens in the United States.

“In the past, BA had said it was considering imposing random breath tests but it never happened,” he said.

“I’m gravely concerned about the drinking culture among airline crews. One or two British pilots a year get caught but for each of those there are probably another 60 or 70 getting away with it.”

The Government recently announced plans to breath-test pilots in cases where there is suspicion or ‘cause’ such as happened in Sweden - but it has stopped short of random testing.

The legal limit for flying is four times less than the British driving limit - or just half a pint.

In the aviation industry any level of alcohol in the blood is taken to mean a pilot is intoxicated and not in full control of an aircraft.

The Civil Aviation Authority said it had the power to demand any pilot with a UK licence to undergo a medical assessment if suspected of breaching the zero tolerance alcohol rule.

If a pilot fails the medical, his licence to fly could be withdrawn.


3rd Feb 2003, 03:10
And getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep? Wasn't that part of the interview process?

For my UK friends, just wait until the 'highly qualified' security screeners begin smelling your breath and calling security on you like here in the States. I guess making $3.50/hr. qualifies you to make those calls.

BTW, the only bigger drunks than journalists are politicians!:rolleyes: TC

Ignition Override
3rd Feb 2003, 05:25
AA717Driver: Good points from you, and many others. Our FAA has always 'closed their eyes' to overnight ops whereby less than four (4) hours of sleep is likely.

Don't even let any TSA personnel get close to you-an arm's length is plenty. But so far, I've found that most of the TSA personnel are a good bit brighter and more educated than most of the previous security folks. But as for prima donna Postal Inspectors or Sherriffs, just why do any of them need to fly with a loaded weapon? Nobody has ever given us an explanation. Maybe it is a manhood issue, and they could go buy themselves some "trim" in Amsterdam or Frankfurt.

And I thought that certain US media stunts were unprofessional. It appears that certain British newspaper managing editors have completely ignored any semblance of a code of ethics (paying mysterious taxi drivers a bit of cash for a quick quote...?).

Jet II
3rd Feb 2003, 07:52
Just out of interest - why is BALPA opposed to random testing?

3rd Feb 2003, 11:29
Well I think that those pilots were actually quite responsible guys - I mean it would be very silly and dangerous to drive a car while drunk - especially with all those nasty taxi drivers out there!

I mean when they are at work pilots are pretty supernumery anyhow....

I mean the Ops dept and their computers do all the planning, the nice dispatcher type person does all their weight calculations for them, the hosties count the pax and give them the safety spiel, ATC tell them which way to steer and if they are in danger of bumping into anything or anyone else who might be a bit tipsy up there.

The nice shiny airplane can fly them all the way to where they want to go and even land itself at the other end. By which time they should have sobered up enough to manage to steer the thing to the gate, (assuming they haven't spent too much time in the bar enroute) - even that doesn't have to be too accurate as the bridge thingy has wheels and can come to the airplane if need be.

Then the nice man in the crew bus can take them straight to the bar and the lose (wo)men and they can start getting ready for the homeward sector.

So by my reckoning as long as the guys can manage to keep the thing going reasonable straight down the runway, and thats not too important after all its about 200 ft wide, til about 150 knots and get it in the air everything will be just fine.

:D ;) :D ;)

3rd Feb 2003, 12:04
So come on Mr Paul Miles, I am sure that you are reading this thread, Log on using your real name and tell us:
3 Airline.
4 Name of Taxi Driver.

3rd Feb 2003, 14:17
phd, either you miss the point or you do not understand the situation correctly.

In the first place, the suspension/dismissal of "several" BA pilots last year was not based upon anything other than highly dubious, circumstantial evidence from an amateur so-called "journalist" who, as was amply demonstrated, had an axe to grind, and a grudge to settle.

You say:-The objective of the CAA and the airlines should be to ensure that no pilot ever reaches the flight deck with any alcohol in his/her systemWrong. It is physically impossible to ensure even that a teetotaller reaches the flight deck with no alcohol in his/her system.

Further, your comment that "responsible pilots who know how to drink sensibly and who allow at least 12 hours bottle to throttle, will have nothing to fear" shows breathtaking naďveté. There have already been suggestions that this pilot was set up. You want to assure me that this is not the case?

Finally, there have, as far as I am aware, never been any suggestion in the UK that any incident has occurred after flightcrew checked in "under the influence". There have been a great many incidents, some of them fatal, in which crew have performed poorly through fatigue.

People are very keen to jump on pilots for the very small problem of drink. Politicians (including publicity-hungry MEP's) are less keen to take on the wealth of evidence on fatigue.

Captain Airclues
3rd Feb 2003, 14:52
The Centre for Sleep Research carried out a study which compared the effects of tiredness on hand-eye coordination, decision-making, memory and speed of responding, compared with the effects of alcohol on the same functions. It is well worth reading.
The final paragraph states that the performance impairment associated with sustained wakefulness across the night are similar to those observed in moderate social drinkers.



3rd Feb 2003, 15:00
I have just read the article in the Sunday Mercury and my comments concern the Midland pilot:-

1. I'd like to congratulate you on your accelerated promotion from a first officer to senior captain (whatever that is 'cos it's not in Part A) in just a few years.

2. Your refusal to fly with the captain from Paris was correct but how did you know that he was out and about till 0415??

3. I think you've broken your Agreement for Service by talking to the press. It won't take long before "they" catch up with you, given the amount of personal information divulged to the Press.

4. Stick to facts, but then they appear to be a bit thin on the ground and the article wouldn't get printed.

5. I strongly recommend that you engage brain before gob when talking to the Press if you are still hell-bent on talking to them.

These comments are not meant as a personal attack and are aimed at those of you who could be in serious breach of your employment contracts if you go to the press.


3rd Feb 2003, 22:37
24 hours before your shift starts EH! I havn't heard a commercial pilot call his duty day that before. ? the validity of the surposed informants.:confused:

4th Feb 2003, 01:02
I find it hard to believe that anyone in our profession would turn up for work in the knowledge that they were drunk and unable to perform their duties. I've just never seen it.
However. The Science of alcohol detection is notoriously in-exact. The limit is supposedly set at 2/.2/.02 thingys and yet the only guidance that crews are given is not to drink within 8 hours of reporting for duty. It is also written (somewhere) that you should only drink 'in moderation' within 24 hours of reporting for duty. The term 'in moderation' itself is in-exact.
The fact that you can smell booze on someones breath does not mean that they are drunk and incapable but they MAY be over whatever limit you have set.
We are setting off into a grey area.
Perhaps an idea might be to issue crews with their own breathaliser device so that if they think they may have transgressed slightly over some limit the night before, they can test themselves before turning up for work. That way, if they subsequently get caught by this appalling, in-exact system, they have only themselves to blame.

4th Feb 2003, 16:17
I couldn’t agree more; if the CAA wish to impose specific alcohol limits it should also provide the means for us to determine what those limits are. CAA issued breathalysers are the only way forward; test yourself prior to going to work, if over the "limit" take the day off.
If my memory serves me correctly the 0.02 limit was imposed as the nearest to zero that can be accurately determined.

6th Feb 2003, 00:23

I'm afraid you're a bit naive mate.......you've never worked for Gulf Air have you......5 yrs years ago a certain Capt. and F/O got a little carried away at lunchtime and although the Capt. had the wisdom not to put on his uniform for the evening departure to BAH the F/O showed up in the crew lobby of the former Excelsior ready for duty.....the cabin crew subsequently walked off the bus when they smelled the alcohol........both pilots were fired and the Captain who had been with the co. for at least 12years lost his entire pension...................

6th Feb 2003, 14:03
On a serious point on our lifestyle, from somebody who would never take risk of loosing ones career by turning up to work with even the smallest quantity of alcohol in the system. I would rather report after a couple of pints of the black stuff at lunch time, than finishing 6 days of early's with for example a GLA, EDI double.

Although I would be impaired by the alcohol, this would be nothing compared to the fatigue that some of us feel at the end of the week going to bed at a sensible time.

With the cut throat industry that we work in at the moment, the rostering has become so tight that .02mg of booze in the system is the least of our worries.

And they want to increase the number of hours that we do. I don't know about long haul but the limits for short haul are a bit to high enough anyway especially when people like O Danny Boy couldn't give a monkeys about asking you to brake the 900 hrs risking your licence.

6th Feb 2003, 14:13
As pilots we should be encouraging BALPA and the IPA to highlight the REAL issues that affect flight safety.

I was horrified to read recently that some operators now expect crews to self position in hired cars BEFORE a flying duty and that little account of this is being taken with respect to fatigue.

Just how long will it be before we have a fatigue/stress induced accident?

Alien Shores
6th Feb 2003, 14:49
The amounts this gentleman is "guilty" of having in his system are negligible, but no matter how much we wish to argue the rights and wrongs of the system that wrote the book about to be launched in his direction, thats the game we now realise we gotta play.

"Personal" failings will always grab the headlines, because everyone can relate to them and easily pick a side or a stance. "Systemic" failings are much more insidious; they are the real killers, the hidden dangers but because they are buried in procedure and hide-bound in the inertia of the organisations that nurture and support them they never get the exposure. And even if they do get the exposure, they don't have the "personal" element that someone who has visibly commited a simple human failing brings with them.

The book will be thrown, and much wailing and wringing of righteous hands will ensue. The same wailers and wringers will then sit by quietly and watch legislation be passed that will leave people legally fit to carry passengers when medically fatigued because it is commercially expedient to do so.

So who's more culpable? It's quite depressing really... anyway, my personal answer to these recent developments is simply to go completely teetotal downroute. Much easier than I thought, just flicking a switch really. That way, I am saved the stress of perhaps tripping over a kerb leaving the crew bus, then wondering for the next hour or so whether my 2 beers the night before have put me over some marginal limit. I'll still have the worry of natural levels though.

But then, it never was a "problem" for me, or for the 99.9% "INCLUDING" the gentleman trapped above. I have flown before on the very knife-edge of fatigue.. nearly, but not quite there, and know what that feels like, and that it ain't gonna get any better, only worse. There's the real story the press need to see, but they never will.. not till there's more than one smoking hole anyway; one is never enough for a systemic failing to be accepted as such.


Hew Jampton
6th Feb 2003, 16:50
Your pop at the pilot in the Mercury article is probably justified but look carefully at the wording. Does "Midland pilot" mean he works for bmi British Midland or he lives/is based in the Midlands? If the former, the words "But the Midland pilot who contacted the Sunday Mercury and who works for a major British airline" would seem to be tautologous, assuming the journo knows what that means. Possibly the journo deliberately made it ambiguous to blacken the airline but leaving him a defence of the second meaning if they sue.

6th Feb 2003, 18:47
Good point!

My money is on one or two of my ex-colleagues.


6th Feb 2003, 21:25
this whole flying job thing just iterupts my beer drinking sessions all the time:mad:

Jump Complete
7th Feb 2003, 14:53
A couple of nights ago I was having trouble sleeping so at about 2am I took some Bach remedy (Three drops on the tounge) Looking on the label I found it had alcahol in it. Now, supposing I took some just before flying. If I was tested (or for that matter, if I was breathalised when driving) would it show me as being over the limits for Flight Crew?

7th Feb 2003, 15:41
Digressing from the original thread I would STRONGLY recommend anyone who has on-going sleeping problems to consult his/her company doctor or AME.

I know a man who didn't.......................