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Armed Captain Arrested for Alcohol at KLAS

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Armed Captain Arrested for Alcohol at KLAS

Old 14th Jan 2005, 10:42
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Armed Captain Arrested for Alcohol at KLAS

Those TSA guys are smelling alcohol on the pilots' breath again:

Chris Saldaña, Reporter

Airline Captain Arrested at McCarran Airport

(Jan. 13) -- A pilot scheduled to fly a plane out of Las Vegas was arrested after a TSA screener smelled alcohol on his breath. The pilot was also in possession of a weapon. He is a member of the Federal Flight Deck Officers, a program sponsored by the TSA that allows pilots to carry weapons.

Captain Oliver Reason was taken into custody after that TSA screener notified Metro Police. Metro arrived at the plane, conducted a breathalyzer, and realized Captain Reason's blood alcohol level was above the legal flight limit.

He was scheduled to operate the flight out of Las Vegas to Atlanta. That flight was cancelled and passengers were re-accommodated on later flights.

Eyewitness News did talk to Air Tran, the airline Captain Reason works for, they say Captain Reason is suspended as the investigation continues, but add, that Air Tran has a zero-tolerance when it comes to pilots under the influence.

As well, the TSA has suspended Captain Reason from his duties as a Federal Flight Deck Officer.

The legal limit of blood alcohol level for a pilot to fly is anything under .04. The FAA sets this limit.



AirTran Pilot Charged With Drunkenness

From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — An armed AirTran Airways pilot was charged with operating an aircraft under the influence after a federal screener at McCarran International Airport smelled alcohol on his breath, authorities said Thursday.

Las Vegas police arrested Oliver Paul Reason Jr., 37, in the cockpit of the AirTran plane shortly after he passed through a checkpoint Wednesday night, according to the Transportation Security Administration, police and the airline.

Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran Holdings Inc. issued a statement Thursday saying the passenger airline followed its procedures to ensure that the Atlanta-bound aircraft was held at the gate.

"The captain neither took command of the aircraft nor was the aircraft operated in any manner," the airline said. The pilot has been suspended from his duties as a federal flight deck officer, which had allowed him to carry the firearm, the TSA said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said that if it found that the pilot, who has worked for AirTran since 1994, was intoxicated on the job, he would be banned from flying.



Pilot Arrested on AirTran Flight

Police officers boarded an Atlanta-bound AirTran flight in Las Vegas early Thursday morning where they arrested a 38-year-old pilot after a screener smelled alcohol on his breath.

Pilot Oliver Reason Jr., is suspected of having a blood alcohol level above the legal flight limit.

“The Las Vegas Police Department did escort the captain from the aircraft and performed a Breathalyzer test. It is our understanding the captain failed the Breathalyzer test,” said Tad Hutcheson of AirTran Airways.

Though Reason never touched the controls, he has been charged with the operation of an aircraft while under the influence.

"At no point was the flight under the captain's command," Hutcheson said.

The Orlando-based airline subsequently cancelled Flight 1780 destined from McCarran International to Hartsfield-Jackson and removed all of the 64 passengers from the plane. Other flight accommodations were made.

The ordeal started just after midnight when a Transportation Security Administration screener reported smelling alcohol when the pilot passed by. Police were then notified and went to the gate, only to find out Reason had already boarded the plane. He was arrested in the cockpit.

“He had to check in with a local law enforcement official at the TSA and that is precisely where he was caught,” Hutcheson said. “Our multi-step safety protocol system worked, it caught the captain before he assumed control of the aircraft.”

AirTran officials said Reason was a member of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, run by the TSA, which allowed him to carry a weapon.

A spokesperson for AirTran said the airline immediately contacted the Federal Aviation Administration about the incident. The FAA has made a medical certification suspension and started an emergency review.

Reason has been suspended indefinitely pending the investgations by AirTran and the FAA.


Last edited by Airbubba; 14th Jan 2005 at 11:37.
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 14:56
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If the limit is 0.04 in the US, does that mean he could have been legal to fly in the US, but could have failed a uk administered breath test?
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 16:13
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Easy 130+ posts. AirTran 2 posts! But, I digress.

One thing's for sure it may still be relatively rare but it seems to be happening more often. Can't be doing the industry any good. Why oh why do pilots still risk drinking, even when it's only moderately, up to eight hours prior to starting their duty. I reckon a good 24 hours buffer is needed these days (and even that's only as long as the drinking isn't extreme). Don't risk it guys and gals, your career is on the line.
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 19:16
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Very easy solution!

Simply make it a condition of employment that from 12 hours prior to start of duty on first day of flying thru finishing the last days flying NO ALCHOHOL will be tolerated.

Nice easy ground rules that anyone can follow, anyone not conforming to be fired without hesitation.

There would be no doubt and passengers and crew would be protected and much safer from those who "think" they can drink and/or take drugs with impunity and still operate aircraft.

Very harsh you might say but realistic!!
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 19:18
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AirTran Fires Captain After Arrest

An AirTran Airways captain who was removed from an Atlanta-bound flight after a screener smelled alcohol on his breath was flown to Atlanta and fired Friday.

Airline officials put 38-year-old Oliver Reason Jr. on a flight from Las Vegas, where he is free on bond, to Atlanta. Upon his arrival, he met with his superiors and was terminated.

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Old 14th Jan 2005, 19:23
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Was it his birthday then yesterday?

(He appears to have aged from 37 to 38)
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 20:03
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This thread started 8 hours ago and the Easyjet thread started 3 days and 8 hours ago and there's a whole lot more Brit pilots on Prune than American so what's your point?
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 20:52
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My point Bronx is the British "Island mentality". Some of the posts in the Easy thread amused me in the light of yet another case emerging. It seemed no one had noticed.
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 21:15
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Yeah, when they get bad fog in the English Chanel the Brit papers say Europe's cut off.
Ya gotta love 'em all the same.
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 21:51
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Of course, Mr. Bronx, and then the Brits say the Yanks don't discuss anything that doesn't happen on their soil and so and so yada yada...

I hope all agree that these types of Pprune statistics are meaningless and, in view of the gravity of the subject matter, rather unimportant.

The disheartening thing, which I believe was Mr. Avman's original point, is the apparent frequency which with this sort of thing is being seen to occur, and to be publicised. In this case -- with firearms involved -- the journos scored a hat trick: aeroplanes, alcohol and weapons.

Not a good mix for any industry, especially one already under duress.
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 22:03
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Mercenary Ali, that has to be just about the most ridiculous suggestion I've seen in relation to drinking and flying. One of the few pleasures of nightstopping downroute is to be able to have a couple of quiet beers before turning in for the night. Why should the majority of us suffer because of a very small minority (and yes it really is small) of people who can't cope without getting absolutely smashed.

Secondly why does everyone insist on listening to the hype about alchohol remaining in your system for so long. I bought a digital alchohol level detector (because I'm a gadget freak not an alchoholic). My friend has one also. Over the last few months we have compared results and only once or twice after 8 hours has the unit registered anything other than zero. Those nights were real heavy session involving champagne, wine and spirits. I have never been over the limit within 14 hours of stopping drinking.

So you say everyone is different. So we tested our wives too and yes they retained alchohol levels longer but still were always clear within 8 Hours.

The people that are caught are
a) very stupid and drinking late into the night
b) have a real serious alchohol problem.

The average person should really not have to worry about having a few drinks on a nighstop.

If you are worried about it buy a breathalyser. A digital one with read out can be bought for as little as $90 in the US or about £100 over here.

If I've rambled on its because its friday night and I can't have a beer because I offered to pick the wife up from town!
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Old 14th Jan 2005, 22:18
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The limit in the USA is .02=not fit to fly and .04=ban from any employ in aviation (any job in aviation) for life.
This has been in place for several years now.
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Old 15th Jan 2005, 01:37
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Ironically, it is a lucky thing that the regulatory authorities (FAA paper-pushers) can never measure fatigue, and might refuse to.

Serious fatigue can affect safety as much as modest intoxication.

How much cough syrup can put us over the legal alcohol limit on a breathalyzer? Was this ruled out in Las Vegas? If it WAS only from drinking, then the First Officer could have tried to save the Captain's career by warning him to return to the hotel and call in sick, if they both rode together to the airport. If he had had very little sleep that day, he might have called in fatigued.

Does Air Tran have a pilot committee (i.e. HIMS) which can investigate an alleged 'problem' before it leads to major consequences?
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Old 15th Jan 2005, 02:32
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All this poor chap would have had to do was to put a strong mint in his mouth, keep his mouth shut and breathe through his nose while passing through the screening point.
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Old 15th Jan 2005, 06:27
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Some more details emerge from the arrest report:

Air Tran Pilot Fired for Drinking

Adrian Arambulo, Reporter

(Jan. 14) -- An airline pilot who was arrested at McCarran International Airport for being drunk just before he was about to fly has been fired. The incident, though, is raising concerns about passengers' safety.

Eyewitness News has learned that the pilot, Captain Oliver Reason, was fired this morning. An investigation is being conducted to determine whether his pilot's license will be suspended. But even if it were, he would have a chance to get it back.

The Metro police arrest report gives more insight into Oliver Reason's arrest at McCarran. The documents show officers contacted Reason aboard the plane he was set to fly and that he blew a .091 on a breathalyzer. That is nearly twice the legal flying limit. The report states that he was cooperative despite smelling strongly of alcohol.

"We have never had a pilot fail the Breathalyzer test until this episode in Las Vegas," said Tad Hutcheson, AirTran Airways.

Until Friday, Reason was a pilot for the Atlanta based AirTran Airways. "We pulled his badge, took him off airport property so he no longer works for AirTran Airways." It is up to individual airlines to conduct random sobriety tests on their pilots and then report the results to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The F.A.A. says last year eight pilots failed the random tests. However, there are no numbers available for pilots who are are randomly caught by screeners or other airport personnel, as is the alleged case with Reason.

"We immediately begin an investigation. If it turns out he is intoxicated on the job then we revoke his or her license," said Donna Walker, F.A.A. Authorities with the F.A.A. can revoke a pilot's license for being drunk. However, pilots can eventually get their licenses back if they pass an extensive rehabilitation program.

"The skies are dangerous enough and the planes can malfunction without someone being intoxicated to make it happen," said Richard Enusa, a pilot.

"The guy had no business doing what he did. He has no right to fly commercial any more," said Jeff Brooks, an airline passenger.

Reason was also a federal flight deck officer, which means he was allowed to carry a gun when he flew. A gun was removed from the cockpit when Reason was arrested. The T.S.A. is conducting an investigation into whether or not that license might be revoked as well.



AirTran Fires Pilot Accused of Drinking

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 15, 2005; Page E01

AirTran Airways said it fired one of it pilots yesterday after he allegedly showed up for work in Las Vegas smelling of alcohol and carrying a government-issued firearm in a lockbox.

The pilot, Oliver Paul Reason Jr., 37, was trained by the federal government to carry a gun in the cockpit under a program passed by Congress in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Transportation Security Administration said it was the first incident since the program's inception in April 2003 in which an armed pilot was reportedly under the influence of alcohol on the job.

Tad Hutcheson, an AirTran spokesman, said the airline does not believe arming pilots is a good idea, even though some of its employees have volunteered for the program. "We want the pilots to focus on flying and not on guns or security or anything else," Hutcheson said. "That's always been our position."

The TSA has trained thousands of pilots to carry .40-caliber semiautomatic pistols in a lockbox under a voluntary program. The agency won't disclose the exact number of members but says that commercial airline pilots must first pass rigorous background and psychological tests and training in order to carry a weapon. Pilots transport the guns in a lockbox to the cockpit.

The incident raised fresh concerns about arming pilots with lethal weapons at 30,000 feet. Doug Laird, former director of security for Northwest Airlines, said he does not think airline pilots receive adequate training to carry weapons. There will be incidents like this, Laird said. "There are incidents with police."

But an airline pilot who pushed Congress to authorize the program argued that the pilot's use of alcohol was more dangerous than his gun. "The issue is making sure a pilot who is irresponsible with alcohol is never, ever given access to an airplane," said Tracy Price, an airline captain. "Between the airplane and the gun, the airplane is many times more dangerous."

Police at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport said Reason showed up for a flight scheduled to leave for Atlanta at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. A security screener detected alcohol on his breath and alerted police, who met him on the plane, questioned him and conducted a breath test for alcohol.

A police officer on the scene said Reason "did not appear impaired, however there was an odor of alcohol on his breath," according to police records. Reason allegedly told police that he had not had a drink in 10 hours, but he failed the breath test. Police officers arrested Reason on a charge of operating an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol, according to police records.

AirTran canceled the flight and rescheduled its 60 passengers on other flights to Atlanta.

Reason was held by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Clark County Jail and released Thursday. He flew to Orlando as a passenger on Thursday, where his manager told him that he had been terminated for violating company policy. The airline said he had been with the company for about 10 years. A representative from the union representing AirTran pilots declined to comment. Reason could not be reached for comment. A person who answered the telephone at his house but declined to identify herself said the family had no comment.

Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman, said the agency recovered Reason's weapon from Las Vegas police and Reason was dropped from the armed pilots' program. Federal rules prohibit pilots from operating an aircraft within eight hours of consuming alcohol, known as the eight-hour "bottle to throttle" rule, and they may not have a blood-alcohol level above 0.04 percent. Violating the rules could result in the FAA revoking a pilot's license.

The FAA said it could not comment on whether Reason's license had been pulled, citing privacy reasons.

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Old 15th Jan 2005, 07:00
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The limit in the USA is .02=not fit to fly and .04=ban from any employ in aviation (any job in aviation) for life.
Don't know where you get this from. FAR 91.17 says:

No person may act as a crewmember:
1) within 8 hours of the consumption of alcohol
2) while under the influence of alcohol
3) (irrelevant)
4) while having .04% by weight or more alcohol in the blood

(and a lot more that is not pertinent)

FAR 61.15 says that a violation of 91.15 (and a number of similar items) is grounds for denial of application for certificate (etc) for up to 1 year, and suspension or revocation or any certificate.

That's all the FARs say. In practice, I guess you'd have a hard time getting a job as a pilot after losing your licence for a 91.15 violation, but there's no rule that says so. And nothing at all about .02. Individual airlines or employers may of course have such a rule.

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Old 15th Jan 2005, 07:37
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>>Don't know where you get this from.

Airlines in the U.S. are under DOT 49 CFR Part 40 which states that if you blow .02 or higher you will be removed from a safety sensitive postion for at least 24 hours.

Most airlines advertize a "zero tolerance" policy and will terminate your employment for a .02. Almost all airlines have an approved SAP or substance abuse program, in some cases you might be able to get a job (and medical, if it was over .04) back if you went through rehab and the >02. did not occur while "on duty" in a safety sensitive position. In the past wide discretion has been used but as more of these incidents hit the media, fewer folks seem to come back from a booze bust.
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Old 15th Jan 2005, 14:15
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"The skies are dangerous enough and the planes can malfunction without someone being intoxicated to make it happen," said Richard Enusa, a pilot.
Sheesh. One will say nothing more, as it's clearly a media circus now.
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