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VS A340 pilot breathalysed at LHR: WRONGLY ACCUSED

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VS A340 pilot breathalysed at LHR: WRONGLY ACCUSED

Old 2nd Apr 2007, 23:54
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I used to be an active member of this website back in the good old days but do not bother anymore; as Luke Sky Toddler says, it is 80% full of posters who don't, or shouldn't, qualify to post.
Frankly, anyone who openly announces themselves as not even being related to aviation on a professional (or wannabee) level should have there posting privelages removed. This thread has only served to remind me as to why I now rarley visit what was once a valuable source of information for me. Sadly this site is now riddled with uninformed drivel from the vast numbers who feel it their duty to pass judgement on issues over which they have absolutely no authority whatsoever.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 00:02
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Don't know how many were attributed to fatigue, but I believe Kalitta 808 was one of the first. Crashed on the turn to final at Guantanamo in 1993.

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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 00:46
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What is more dangerous, flying on a drink, just one, only one, or a bit of a windy approach with an experienced SFO with you, who has just innocently and without knowledge, mentioned to you about a trip he did with XXX who is your partner, who he saw cracking on with pilot YYY?

How do we control this?

Statistically speaking, how many jets have gone in due to "landing drinks"? If you can drive on four times the amount without another professional sitting next to you, then why can't you fly?
The only way, going forward with this, is to dig a big hole, get into it and wait to die.

Fear and control is the way forward. We will always have the Daily Mail to protect us though!
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 07:48
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What a lot of drivel has crept into this thread. The Pilot concerned will undergo due process to ascertain his/her guilt or innocence. Infringement of pre-duty "bottle to throttle rules, whether they 8,10 or 12 hours cannot be permitted.

There are two types of persons who may, and do, infringe this rule.
1. Individuals with a drink/substance abuse problem or other problem( alcoholic etc ) who needs to be taken aside, provided with help, rehabilitation and support to give them the chance to overcome and resume their Career. I know several colleagues who have undergone such programmes with success.

2. Those who have one within the period for whatever reason, perhaps, all their mates are having one, they lose track of time, they think it will be all right, its just one, they are on standby and think they will not be called, could be any of many reasons. These individuals needs to learn some responsibility and discilpline. Remember a heavy session even 24 hours before may still affect your sense of balance.

My background is 22 yrs as a Pilot of both freight and Pax. The majority of pilots I have worked with are very rigid about "bottle to throttle". But a few have not been, usually due to an underlying problem, bet it martial, stress, financial or whatever.

We, as professionals, colleagues and persons charged with responsibility must not accept a situation where a fellow pilot is ....pushing the limits with alcohol. Most companies have system of intervention and assistance. It may not even need to go that far, a word of awareness in the persons ear may well be enough to make them re-think their actions. A stitch in time saves nine.

The trial by media that now surrounds a Pilot being dealt with by the authorities on suspicion of this offence is unhelpful, unjust, ill informed and a travesty of natural justice. Lets not have trial by PPRUNE. I wonder do the Journalists/Editors who smash the life of an individual with Shock headlines ever stop to think how it will affect the person? The is nothing wrong with accurate and fair reporting.....But come on!!!!.

Chaps, If you want to keeps your career, leave plenty time between your last drink and report for duty and remember the company limit is a minimum, a heavy session may require a longer drink free period. If you break the rules you put your colleagues in a difficult position, face arrest and public humiliation.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 08:25
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i have read your post several times and can only assume you have been on the lash yourself. WTF ???
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 09:07
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You can't ever condone drinking and flying, but this pilot is entitled to be innocent until proven guilty.

What he doesn't need is to be hounded by fellow pilot's. If he is proved to have been p*ssed, then I hope he gets help, since no pilot in their right mind would ever turn up for work worse for wear.

This isn't WW2 where having a few drinks and then flying was the norm, the culture has changed and the old stereotypes about pilots and drinking just aren't true anymore.

I suppose this is why there is such an outcry when it happens, simply because it is a rare event, whereas flying when knackered is just as dangerous, but happens on a regular basis. Could imagine it if a security guard stopped you from getting to a flight because you looked tired!
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 09:13
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Well said Earthmover.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 09:44
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Originally Posted by ZFT
John 8 – 7 is very apt here!
Very apt, indeed.

"Let he that is without sin......."
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 11:47
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Rumours and News AND OPINION

Whilst being all for the Rumours and News content of this forum, it does get a little tedious reading and re-reading the same OPINIONS time and time again - on both sides of the argument - each being rebutted firmly and vigorously with everything from sound logic and reasoning to downright abuse.

An opinion expressed once is valuable and worthwhile (from one point of view or another) ... but some of this is just verbal tennis.

Perhaps we should have the rules of "Just A Minute" invoked, particularly in terms of repetition and deviation.

Yes I know - I now stand amongst the ranks of the guilty.

Last edited by Dave Gittins; 3rd Apr 2007 at 11:48. Reason: carp spelling
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 11:51
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What he doesn't need is to be hounded by fellow pilots.
It's always worth remembering that not everyone who posts their opinion is a professional pilot.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:13
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This is not about whether security should be castigated for reporting a concern. It is about the anonminity the reporter gets, enabling them to make false accusations to get revenge for a real or percieved slight by the aircrew. The police have to act on such complaints and innocent or not you're dragged thru the mud if you are taken off to be brethalysed. The person making the report has their human rights safeguarded under data protection et al while the victim of their attack is left potentially in ruins, torn to pieces by the media or BJCC..a very sad man who lives up to the stereotypical know all self righteous copper image.
Some form of redress against the complainant is necessary to prevent spurious accusations, whatever the motive.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:16
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Pax posters

Those of us who are un-Professional, non-Pilots, but simply passengers only, can't of course comment knowledgeably about Piloting, but we must surely have a right to expect Professionalism on the flight deck of the aircraft that carries us.

We can't tell our doctors how to make an incision, stitch a wound, listen to a chest or prescribe a drug, but we do trust and expect them to do all of those things most conscientiously.

Similarly, without knowledge of aviation, we still can trust Pilots, who also take our lives in their hands, to be such consummate Professionals that, in instances like those in this topic, they would not appear for duty unless they felt fully fit to carry out their skilled tasks.

Even though it's hard for any of us to assess the effect of alcohol on our own reaction time, judgment and motor skills, we would expect Professional Pilots to err on the side of caution, and to relieve themselves of that day's duty, with responsibility for hundreds of lives, if they had any doubt whatsoever that they were not at their absolute best.

Only medics can discuss medical science, but patients' views inform their medical ethics. Similarly, people you call SLF can comment, humbly, here on Professional Pilots' ethics, can't they?
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 14:26
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Whether pilots drink when not supposed to, be it due to having a problem or disregard for the regulations or even not understanding the effects of alcohol over time are all issues that the individual can get help with and deal with.

I think it is everyone’s responsibility that if they suspect an indiscretion through alcohol then it should be reported, even by security, by what ever means is most expeditious. The individual concerned does have the right, I feel, to have the issue dealt with speedily and I find it hard to believe that equipment to measure alcohol at the required sensitivity is not available on the open market.

Come on you scientists pull your fingers out.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 15:29
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wee one
IMHO there's a great deal of force in the comments you make.

"innocent or not you're dragged thru the mud if you are taken off to be breathalysed."
And, regardless of ultimate result, there will always be people who make 'no smoke without fire', 'he got away with it' etc comments.

I've always thought the professional pilots on this site are very tolerant of comments of posts by those of us who are passengers. On the few occasions when some show irritation, it's almost always justified.
Not unreasonably, reactions can vary depending upon the content of posts and/or the manner in which opinions are expressed.

eg No-one could fault the manner of your post but, with respect, what does saying that professional pilots should be professional add to the discussion?
Do you really believe professional pilots need to be told that? My experience, gained professionally and socially over a few decades, is that the overwhelming majority are consummate professionals, and are very intolerant of the tiny minority who are not. The tiny minority aren't going to be influenced by reading such comments.

Is it surprising the professionals sometimes become exasperated when, on the extremely rare occasions a pilot is arrested on suspicion of being over the prescribed limit, they read comments (in the press and on PPRuNe) of the 'Hundreds could have died' variety, or the suggestion (implied or direct) that there is a serious flight safety problem that needs to be resolved. There is not. The 'alcohol provisions' included in the extensive new Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 brought the UK into line with most other European countries. It was a convenient time to do so - not because there was a flight safety problem which needed to be addressed.

"We must surely have a right to expect Professionalism on the flight deck of the aircraft that carries us."
I agree entirely. And that is what we get.
The extremely rare exceptions (when they've been proved) should be regarded as what they are: extremely rare exceptions.

Reading some contributions on 'alcohol' threads, one could be forgiven for thinking that aircraft were crashing regularly because pilots had been drinking. The reality is that, over the decades since air accident investigation records have been kept, and despite the millions of miles flown every year, only a minute fraction of accidents have been found (or suspected) to have been caused or contributed to by alcohol.

Is it surprising that professional pilots sometimes become exasperated by those posts which demonstrate ill-informed, over emotional, over reaction?
I don't think so. IMHO, it's entirely understandable.


Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 3rd Apr 2007 at 15:51.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 16:58
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Flying lawyer has, as usual phrased it perfectly. His comments are always welcome as an "honourary one of us."

Please do not liken pilots to doctors. One of the highest alcoholism rates in any career is found in medicine. As for hundreds of lives in our hands I give you Britains most prolific known serial killer- Dr Harold Shipman.

I look forward to the day when doctors are made to undergo the same checks on their professional standards as pilots. I write here as one who nearly lost his career due to the incompetence of a doctor with a drug problem. He got help from his employers, regaining my license cost me a fortune, as for damages I didn't even get an apology.

Whoever this pilot is he will be more than aware of how much potential trouble he is in. He is however, innocent until proven guilty, sadly too many observers of aviation forget that we are human too.

As for commenting on our standards I personally believe that unless you are qualified to carry out our work, or as knowledgable as Flying Lawyer about our work (He got that knowledge from years of representing pilots and holding licenses himself) then you should not comment at all. The media love this site and others like it. They have no idea who you are and a careless comment can lead to yet more shock/horror headlines.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 19:19
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I wonder if anyone out there who has access to the statistics is able to tell me the following:

1) How many flights take place daily worldwide?
2) How many commercial flying accidents there have been that have subsequently been attributed to the crew being under the influence of alcohol?

Many thanks,

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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 19:47
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Black Knat

As a frequent traveller, I have been following this thread with interest, as my life is literally in the hands of professional pilots times several times each month and I have great respect for the skills, knowledge and attitudes of commercial pilots.

However, your questions trouble me.

There are legal limits for BAC when performing an aviation related duty.

In my day job I have to comply with some regulation which strikes me as being overbearing, but as a professional I comply.

Maybe I am reading an implication into your questions that you did not intend, in which case I would ask you to forgive me, but it reads as if you are making an argument that the laws are unjustified.

It only takes a further leap of logic to infer that unjustified laws can be paid lip service.

I hope I am wrong in my analysis, since my cut on professional pilots is that they are just that and that they would comply with regulations as a matter of course.

I would also like to express my support for the professional pilot community, who have flown me safely going on for a thousand times in the past 20 years and who seem to be the centre of a media frenzy at every opportunity these days.
Old 3rd Apr 2007, 21:21
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I think you will find that there are many other responsible professions who work over the limit and many more with serious drink problems. I spoke to a copper once who said that if he thought that he was over the prescribed limit he would walk to work and then be ferried around in a squad car, his mates would look after him but he stil carried out his duties opl. My friends dad was a gp for years he drank 2bottles of whisky and smoked 40 fags a day but still carried on with his profession. Bearing in mind this was 10 years ago and society has changed I think the flying profession is too severely scrutinised by others who are not in our profession. As pilots we should lookafter each other and if I think my f/o is unfit for work then I shall advise that person to go sick if not then it is my responsibility to take things further and before it gets around to some "more than my jobs worth" security officer to report us. Sorry the airport security people have become the lowest in my opinion. If they can smell alcohol after the people have been scrutinised by their own profession then call the airline not the police and let the airline deal with it or inform the other crew members so this can be stopped. It's like advising your mate not to drive if he has had a few or taking his car keys away. A good kick up the arse from a company can make a big difference if it is a one off. If not a one off then there may be a problem and there are programmes to deal with it.
Rant over again.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 21:31
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Boot...other foot...?

Security man frisking me at MAN the other day reeked of alcohol. (And B.O). Should I have called the police?

Given the "responsible" nature of his job, checking pilots' shoes and the like, surely he should not have been on duty and (maybe) over the BAC.

I didn't, as I have more sense, but wonder what I may do next time. Which will be soon.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 23:02
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You may be right, but I don't see that implication in
Black Knat's questions.
It is equally consistent with (a) asking because he doesn't know the answers or (b) knowing the answers in 'general' terms, although not the precise stats, and trying to put the comments some people make into sensible perspective.

IMHO, the onus is on those who claim there is a flight safety problem to show there is - not for those who say there isn't to prove a negative.
However, in the spirit of debate, I offer some statistics for consideration.

In June 2006, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau published the results of a study into a
ccidents and incidents involving alcohol and drugs in Australian civil aviation from 1 January 1975 to 31 March 2006.
The ATSB database was searched for accidents and incidents in which either alcohol or drugs (legal or illicit) were detected post-mortem or believed to have been significant causal or contributory factors in an aviation occurrence.

In that period of just over 31 years:
  • of 160,338 occurrences (incident or accident), 36 were either drug or alcohol-related. ie 0.02%
  • of those 36 drug/alcohol occurrences, 22 were alcohol.
  • of the 8,302 accidents, 32 were either drug or alcohol related. ie 0.4%.
  • 61% of drug/alcohol occurrences were in private flying operations.
  • The next most common was agricultural ops, at 11%.
  • Drug and alcohol occurrences in the airline operations category: NONE
  • The ATSB found that the results of the study were "consistent with other international experience."

We know from press reports and threads on this site that, on extremely rare occasions, some professional pilots are found to have broken the law by having more than the prescribed amount of alcohol in their systems.
It is reasonable to assume that not all such instances are detected and prosecuted, but there is no reason to assume, even allowing for undetected instances, that such conduct is other than extremely exceptional.

More to the point: There is no evidence of a flight safety problem.

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