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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

Old 13th Dec 2006, 02:30
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle,

Apology not required but accepted.

Thank you for your insightful contributions to us all here.

I'm without a doubt that there have been many winners from your battles - your inspirational and motivational remarks/texts/speeches are very powerful.

Good luck in all you attempt, and achieve.
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Old 13th Dec 2006, 03:54
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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I’ve been a “PPruner” for some time now, and visit other aviation forums.

This is by far the most profound thread on any forum I have witnessed.

Made more so due to dealing with a friend and a relative (brother) in the midst of this demon.

Capt. Prouse, I salute you. Unfortunately, few who have “hit bottom” have recovered with family, friends, and career restored/intact. You are fortunate.

I have forwarded your posts to my brother…..in hope of hopes that he sees inspiration in your story…..and sees the light……..before he winds up dead or in jail.
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Old 13th Dec 2006, 19:26
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle
Thank you. I think there are many of us who really did not envy you for the dreadful process you went through. However, after reading your last post i am left feeling completely envious of what you now have. How i wish i could look forward to that. Maybe the experience you went through will prove to have been to an incredible advantage. Good luck, enjoy your retirement, live to a long ripe old age and love and savor every moment of what you now have. It is something that is only a pipe dream to many people, and something which you and your family have been through a great deal of pain to achieve. Yours Humbly.
Tigs2

I really believe because of the issues raised in this thread about a problem that does exist in aviation, that it should become a sticky somewhere. I for one would like to read parts of it every now and again, and i know there are many who never even visit 'Rumours and News'.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 04:39
  #104 (permalink)  
 
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Lyles Message

Lyle, I would luv to shake your hand.
Regards Dave
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 06:28
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Wow! From what would have to have been about the most unpromising start imaginable, this thread has grown into one of the best examples of what I think Danny might have had in mind all those years ago when he stared this site.

Danny, could I endorse Brian Abraham’s suggestion that this thread be re-named and placed in an easy to find place on the Home Page (similar to the now sadly missed Humour Page)? It would be a tragedy for it to disappear onto page ‘n’ of the archives.

Thanks almost entirely to the truly inspiring posts from Lyle Prouse, (but also some others), this thread has moved on well beyond the unfortunate incident that sparked it off, and I know that JD, if was able to see ALL of what’s been written here, would be glad something so positive has come of it despite his - and perhaps even moreso, his wife’s – current quite horrible situation.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 07:19
  #106 (permalink)  
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Danny, could I endorse Brian Abraham’s suggestion that this thread be re-named and placed in an easy to find place on the Home Page (similar to the now sadly missed Humour Page)? It would be a tragedy for it to disappear onto page ‘n’ of the archives.
I second the motion Wiley.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 08:10
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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Thumbs up

In common, I'm sure, with many others, I was tempted to skip this thread and when I read some of the early posts I almost gave up reading further. Thank goodness I didn't as it has been the most inspiring thread I have ever seen on PPRuNe, thanks almost entirely to Lyle Prouse. Lyle, your profound observations and inspiring story have truly touched my heart and made a great impression on me.

In my childhood I had an uncle who was a leading surgeon, a brilliant man who suffered from a terrible flaw - he was an alchoholic who never admitted his problem. He often operated when under the influence but, thankfully for his patients, he never made a life-threatening error. Sadly he made a huge life-threatening error with his own life. Over the years I watched as my aunt divorced him, my cousin cut him out of her life (to the extent that even today, more than 30 years after his death she will not talk about him), he spent more time in hospital and eventually died in his mid-fifties, of cirrhosis of the liver.

Many years later, I almost went the same way. My parents died, my marriage ended and I started drinking far too much for my own good. I knew it, but I had nobody like Lyle to give me good counselling and get me to admit that I had a problem. A couple of times, after a heavy night, I called in sick and once I turned up for work in an unfit state to fly. Thankfully my aircraft was unserviceable and I was sent home. I didn't seem to be able to do anything about it, except drink more, feel sorry for myself and start crying tears of self-pity. My saving grace was a wonderful woman who took me as I was, put up with my drinking and gradually through her kindness and understanding helped me to realise that I was sick - in the mind as much as the body. I never quite (I think) graduated to having full-blown alchoholic, but I definitely had a drink problem which affected my personal and professional life. My employers at the time would probably have fired me had they known. I now drink purely socially, just an occasional glass of wine and never spirits, but I know how easy it can be for drink to get the upper hand if your personal problems get to the point where they overwhelm you and there's nobody to talk to about it. Luckily, I now work for an enlightened employer and 2 of my fellow pilots are receiving company support for treatment of their alchoholism.

Thank you Lyle, for your inspirational words and your compassion and thanks also to Chuck Ellsworth and FL, who have put many of the arrogant and pompous to shame.

Danny, I third the motion to make this thread 'sticky'
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 09:17
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If there's anybody out there interested in reading about the subject in detail without getting stuck into heavy text books, I'd highly recommend "Matthew Flinders' Cat" by Bryce Courtenay.

A truly excellent read which might make you look rather differently at those deadbeat blokes selling "The Big Issue" next time you pass one on the city street.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 13:23
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Lyle,
A truly remarkable story.

May you enjoy a long and happy retirement.

God Bless you for what you have done/are doing for others.

This was the most moving posting that I have ever read on the Forum.

Happy Christmas and New Year to You




Charley B
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 14:53
  #110 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle:

You have reached so many people by your posts here on this subject that lurk but don't post. Thank you for helping us understand what you have learned and sharing it with so many people. Everybody heard about Fargo but few have heard your success story.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 15:36
  #111 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle
You are a gifted writer, Your posts were inspiring and touching.
And the same for Chuk.
At my office, there's one recovering, I hate that phrase, one who's a complete drunk, and one who can't drink anymore because of health reasons.
It's a common problem.
Fos
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 16:15
  #112 (permalink)  
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Amazing story....

I can climb mountains, fly airplanes, drive race cars
Beware: drive race cars is intoxicating and I've heard so is flying airplanes..

Chuk, enjoyed your posts, as always...
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 16:53
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Purely scientific inquiry - please don't read any ulterior motive here:

Is there any research showing the practical effects of, say, relatively low level of intoxication on flying skills, versus effect on driving skills? Put another way, what reaction time is essential for competent piloting, versus competent driving?

Aviation has rightly called for "zero tolerance" in this matter, but various jurisdictions have different limits for drivers. I'm interested in whether this makes practical sense.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 17:36
  #114 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by barit1
Purely scientific inquiry - please don't read any ulterior motive here:

Is there any research showing the practical effects of, say, relatively low level of intoxication on flying skills, versus effect on driving skills? Put another way, what reaction time is essential for competent piloting, versus competent driving?

Aviation has rightly called for "zero tolerance" in this matter, but various jurisdictions have different limits for drivers. I'm interested in whether this makes practical sense.
The vast majority of aviation authorities specify that flight "under the influence" is not permitted. This means that any level of alcohol above zero is not legally permitted, so the question is essentially moot. As to the affect on a pilot's skills, physiological factors such as the metabolic rate of alcohol depletion are not a constant, making it difficult to give any meaningful answer.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 18:13
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The vast majority of aviation authorities specify that flight "under the influence" is not permitted. This means that any level of alcohol above zero is not legally permitted .....
"any level of alcohol above zero" does not = "under the influence".

In the UK, until the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, the relevant law was contained in the Air Navigation Order which provided that no member of an aircraft’s crew shall be under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to impair his/her capacity to so act. It did not set a blood alcohol limit (nor did it require pilots to submit to a breath-test.)

The Act introduced two separate offences:

Being Unfit for Duty (Section 92)
Performing an 'aviation function', or carrying out an activity that is 'ancillary to an aviation function', at a time when your ability to perform the function is impaired because of drink or drugs.



Alcohol Exceeding the Prescribed Limit (Section 93)
Performing 'an aviation function', or carrying out an activity that is 'ancillary to an aviation function', at a time when the proportion of alcohol in your breath, blood or urine exceeds the 'prescribed limit.'
Prescribed Limits:
Blood: 20 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres.
Urine: 27 milligrammes / 100 millilitres.
Breath: 9 microgrammes / 100 millilitres.
These limits apply regardless of whether the pilot's ability (to fly etc) is impaired.


So, a pilot may be guilty of the 'excess alcohol' offence (s. 93) even if he/she is not remotely 'under the influence'.
Of course, the headlines would still say the pilot was 'drunk'.
'Pilot 4 milligrammes over the limit' doesn't make a good story.


Tudor Owen
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 23:46
  #116 (permalink)  
 
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This thread has developed into an eloquent and informative source on an illness that many misunderstood, including myself.

When JD's situation evolved, the majority of pilots reacted in a similar way, sympathy for his situation but acknowledgement that a guilty verdict would result in imprisonment. Many of us knew that individually we had probably been close to or in a similar situation over our flying careers. My personal observation of individual’s behaviour on layovers is that our profession has moved significantly from where it was, say 15+ years ago, to now with respect to probable occurrences of FUI (flying under the influence!).

Lyle has identified/highlighted two separate issues; flying drunk (which JD is guilty of) and alcoholism (which JD may or may not suffer from).

My understanding is that most airlines (including JD's former employee) will support an individual seeking help prior to any criminal event taking place. After any such event, dismissal appears to be the only recourse available to the employer.

Should a single case of FUI classify an individual as an alcoholic?

It appears that the alcoholic stands a better chance of rehabilitation into the work force after recognition and treatment. Unfortunately I don't think that JD's previous employer would entertain that prospect and there is certainly no legislation to cover it.

The non-alcoholic who 'flys drunk', becomes cast in stone.

In many respects, this individual is worse off than someone who is identified as an alcoholic. There is an invisible line out there for the non-alcoholic/alcoholic alike that is too easy to overstep, the line is neither straight nor can it be consistently applied. Through others misfortune/experiences raised in this forum, my personal approach to enjoying a beer or wine in the evening will continue to be cautious and more enlightened.
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Old 15th Dec 2006, 02:26
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Whilst I am not a professional pilot, I do work in a profession which has problems with drink and drug abuse (I am a family doctor). Sadly I have witnessed this many times both in my colleagues and in my patients. If you care to look for it there is a wealth of published evidence that confirms my observations to be widespread, not just amongst doctors, but amongst many professional groups, including pilots.

It seems that two separate entities can be identified here; flying whilst drunk, and being an alcohol addict.

The second entity appears to have been well covered in the posts above, with at least some posters accepting that addiction to alcohol at some point in one's career does not necessarily mean a lifelong inablility to fly or take up any position of responsibility.

The 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' attitude of some towards the first entity saddens me a little though, and makes me wonder what kind of society we live in that demands such vengeance.

Please don't misunderstand me, putting lives at risk by turning up to work under the influence (surgeon, pilot, bus driver, whatever) is indefensible, and should be punished according to the full extent of whatever law applies to the profession.

What next though? Should the pilot (or doctor, whatever) automatically be denied any return to their profession? For a pilot who is too old to change career this may well mean loss of their home or spouse, as well as having their self-esteem demolished at a time when perhaps support is needed to overcome the problem that led to the drinking in the first place. I have a patient will quite possibly spend the rest of his life in his bedsit drinking special brew after similar happened to him. I doubt he will ever return to any form of work or independence. A little harsh for someone who made just one out of character slip up don't you think?

Let me tell you what happens in medicine; after being punished the doctor is assessed. A decision is made essentially as to whether they have made an error of judgement which is unlikely to be repeated (i.e. they are able to return to work safely, perhaps with retraining and/or supervision) or alternatively whether it is likely that the error of judgement is likely to recur (in which case they will not be allowed to return to the profession).

Happily, the medical profession spends a good deal of time and effort to help identify and treat alcoholism before a problem that compromises safety occurs. In those cases where a problem does occur, help with either rehabilitation of the doctor, or with establishing a new career elsewhere is provided.

I would take little pride in a profession where we looked upon a fallen colleague without such mercy.
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Old 15th Dec 2006, 02:50
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" I would take little pride in a profession where we looked upon a fallen colleague without such mercy."

Fortunately for aviation Captain Calamity our colleauges with normal human compassion and the ability to see things in a clear light far out number those who are either ignorant or are possibly afraid due to self doubt and fear.

Chuck E.
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Old 15th Dec 2006, 10:43
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I don't think my original post was taken out of context. Just to clarify, I agree completely with the last two posts.

In the aviation profession, the typical airline manager treats an alcohol related dismissal decision as a professional error - that is a rule (FUI) has been broken and dismissal is seen as the only recourse. The cause, however, is medical related with all kinds of nuances that are best assessed by the medical profession.

I can understand that there will be a greater understanding in the medical profession about alcohol related problems in their work place because alcoholism/alcohol errors of judgement are physiological and therefore, part of their profession. A pilot making an error of judgement more closely related to his profession e.g. weather, fuel, technical etc, will have more understanding of the cause from his superiors who are pilots themselves.

We haven't been trained to understand the physiological aspects of alcohol related issues other than the "rule" aspect of thou shall not fly whilst under the influence. The manager has come from the same breeding and will apply the same philosophy in his adjudication "without mercy". In the latest case the airlines domicile, culture, society development and legislation all played a part in job retention and no one was in any doubt as to what the outcome would be. The case was heard in the UK but the job was lost in Dubai.

The alcoholic pilot in some more developed societies appears to stand a chance of being cured and reinstated. The pilot that makes an error of judgement will most likely lose his entire career. Is it fair? Not in my mind, but some areas of our profession are far less developed than others. The example given of what occurred in NWA identifies that there is an equitable solution for alcoholic/non-alcoholic. Sadly it will be a long time before that level of understanding is adopted by society as a whole.

What would I do if an individuals career was (hypothetically) in my hands, and thankfully it's not? Extensive medical assessment to ascertain the degree of dependency and risk, review previous records. Retain if the risk was low enough, dismiss if it wasn't. Remove from flying until all assessments had been completed. There would be a demotion to F/O for a period until risk was reassessed or restriction of upgrade in the case of an F/O. Most importantly, I would ask that the individual assist the company in some form of peer support. Naturally if the individual wasn't willing to support such a program with complete conviction, that would form part of the retention assessment as well.

Alternatively if a return to flying was not an option, conduct the same assessment and offer an option to assist in a peer support program for a period of time. After the agreed period had elapsed, allow the individual to retire with benefits. Self esteem is supported, company gets a return on it's investment and the individual and his family avoids a sentence beyond what the courts have applied.

My main query for debate remains the inconsistencies of alcohol related errors/illness in aviation.
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Old 16th Dec 2006, 11:53
  #120 (permalink)  
 
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I am troubled by this thread.
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