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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 4th Apr 2007, 00:10
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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Just came back from an extended night duty feeling too shattered to drive home I left my car at staff carpark and took the coach home.
Being well below the drink-drive limit/drink-fly limit (e.g zero) I still deemed myself unfit to drive home. That aside I was deemed perfectly suitable just minutes before to fly an aeroplane into a very buzy airport at rushhour in apaulling conditions.

I've been following this thread closely for the past couple of days pondering wether to post and if so what, then Flying Lawyer says it all...
Thanks for posting so I can go to bed...

I do appologise in advance for typos and cr@p spelling as I'm too fatigued even to operate a computer, nonetheless I'm flying again tomorrow all and well sanctioned by company and CAA...
Mind you, didn't have time to fit in a drink so I'm safe...
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 04:35
  #102 (permalink)  
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FL

Thanks for your reading of Black Knat's post - I am probably reading too much into between the lines; I've seen over regulation (in other fields) create problems by appearing so unfair that non compliance was "legitimised" (Robin Hood syndrome)

You publish an interesting study and I am not surprised by the results.

There numbers speak for themselves and say that there is no flight safety problem and that professional pilots are over burdened with regulation in this regard.

No wonder there are some strong reactions from the profession.
 
Old 4th Apr 2007, 07:44
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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FL,

Statistics are fine, clever debaters use them to prove and disprove many points. But believe me, there is no room for Alcohol or the after effects of Alcohol on the flight deck. You seem to be making an argument in the opposite. Small errors can start the chain that may lead to an incident, it IS a flight safety issue.

Does every citizen who commits an offence through alcohol go home and phone the Central Statistics office to make sure their statistics are correct ?

How much time have you spent working on the flight deck of Airliners ?. How many times have you been on crew overnights ?.
Has a member of your crew ever reported for duty in a state that they had to be advised to report sick.

Statistics are fine, but they dont show what happens behind closed doors, in the privacy of the Crew Room and what has not been reported to Regulatory Authorities. In most of infringements, it is the fellow Crew Member who is put on the spot to make the call.

In my years of flying, Europe, MIddle East, Asia, U.S., I have never seen any crew member, have never known any crew member (Freudian slip there I initially typed, "Brew Member") who has been stopped by authorities and checked for alcohol.

Basically, it is left to fellow Crew members to deal with the infringement, thats fine, there are a minimun of two there, but what happens when they are both on the bottle together ?

This is a safety issue, the small number of individuals that infringe cannot be allowed on the flight deck.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 09:52
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FWIW, OldChina, I agree with every word you posted.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 10:25
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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The level of alchol in the blood to render someone drunk is so small that a sniff of the barmaids apron is likely to send you over the limit. The fact of the matter is that if you drink the night before the chances are that person will be over the drink/fly limit at 9am.The amount required to do this is minute compared with the drinkdrive limit which also in my opinion is pretty strict compared with other european states.I would bet my pension that the Captain involved had no idea he was over the limit as like many of us we believe we are clear of all traces of alchol because we have been to bed and it's now a new day. A pilot would never think of drinking at 9am in the morning if he had a 8pm checkout yet we all fall into the trap of drinking the night before no matter how little as tomorrow is another day.
Just a thought!
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 10:48
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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Think that people have to get rid of the fallacy of 8 hours bottle to throttle, and if it is as i think Carnage Matey stated before in his ops manual then should be removed as misleading if not downright dangerous.

I, to my shame got prosecuted for drink driving a few years ago, had been doing it and getting away with it for years, but when drinking excessively regularly as i was, became the norm, luckily had never been involved in an accident or hurt anybody during this period, just caught because of fog lights on.

In order to get my ban reduced i did a drink driving awareness course(very useful by the way) and was surprised by how much drinking can affect reactions and also how long it takes for alcohol to leave the system.

Metabolism,size, amount to eat etc, have absolutely no bearing on the level of alcohol in your breath or blood, another old wives tale.

The fact is that you lose 1 unit of alcohol consumed per hour, a small glass of wine is 2 units, an ordinary bitter or lager(Smiths,Fosters etc) 2 units, Premium lagers, Stella,Kronebourg etc 3 units.

So say for instance you have had previous to report for duty, only for instance 4 pints of Stella, not a huge amount by any means, and you are using the 8 hours bottle to throttle.

12 units drank, 8 hours off, 4 units still in the system at report time.

For driving the limit is 5 units, flying I believe considerably less, but it just shows that only a relatively small amount of drinking can have you over the limit if you use the 8 hour rule
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 11:08
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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OldChinaHand

"But believe me, there is no room for Alcohol or the after effects of Alcohol on the flight deck. You seem to be making an argument in the opposite."
Where?

We seem to be at cross-purposes. That may be my fault for not expressing myself sufficiently clearly.
Of course alcohol is a flight safety issue. So are, for example, medical fitness, appropriate qualifications and currency. I am distinguishing between issue and problem; there is an important difference.

"Does every citizen who commits an offence through alcohol go home and phone the Central Statistics office to make sure their statistics are correct?"
Of course not.

”How much time have you spent working on the flight deck of Airliners?”
None. I'm not a professional pilot. I've been down route in the jumpseat with friends several times (before the UK rules changed post 9/11) but I don't rely on those limited experiences in support of my argument.
”How many times have you been on crew overnights?”
10-12 approx. (More if I include evenings with friends and their colleagues overnighting in the UK over the past 25+ years.) It would be daft to rely on those occasions in support of my argument, and I do not.
”Has a member of your crew ever reported for duty in a state that they had to be advised to report sick?”
No, I’m not a professional pilot.

Statistics are fine, but they dont show what happens behind closed doors ....... etc
Whatever does or doesn’t happen behind closed doors: Where is the evidence of accidents in airline ops being caused or contributed to by alcohol?
The ATSB study found none in 31+ years to March 2006, and that the results of their research were consistent with other international experience.
Are you suggesting that should be ignored as irrelevant when considering whether there is a flight safety problem?

"In my years of flying, Europe, MIddle East, Asia, U.S etc" onwards.
I haven’t suggested all offences are detected. I said it was "reasonable to assume that not all such instances are detected and prosecuted."

"the small number of individuals that infringe cannot be allowed on the flight deck."
I haven’t suggested they should be.
Nor have I condoned breaking the law.

You've focused on infringements.
I’ve focused on accidents.
Which do you say is the better measure of whether there is actually a flight safety problem?

FL


(Edit)

lordsummerisle
"people have to get rid of the fallacy of 8 hours bottle to throttle."
I agree.
When explaining the new law in December 2003, in readiness for it coming into force in 2004, I suggested:
It is impossible to construct any meaningful chart that an individual can use to predict a future alcohol level after a period of drinking. We absorb and excrete alcohol at very different rates.

Warning:
Flight crew and cabin crew should not commence duty for at least eight hours after taking small amounts of alcohol, and proportionally longer if larger amounts have been consumed.
Although it's likely that if a person consumes a maximum of five units of alcohol dispersed over some hours before the eight hour ban, his or her blood alcohol level will be zero at the end of the ban, it cannot be guaranteed.
Rough Guide: Half a pint of ordinary strength beer (3-3.5%) contains one unit of alcohol.
Link: Alcohol and Flying: The New Law

It's important to remember that, under the 2003 Act, you still commit an offence if the proportion of alcohol in your body exceeds the 'prescribed limit' even if the amount of alcohol is so small that your ability to perform your 'aviation function' is not impaired.

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 4th Apr 2007 at 12:01.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 12:28
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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lordsummerisle,
I see the point you are trying to make, and would not condone excessive drinking before flying, however, I think the example you give is inaccurate. No one is going to guzzle 4 pints of Stella, in the 5 minutes prior to the 8 hour ban, which is what they would have to do, in order to have only 8 hours to metabolise the 12 units consumed. Realistically, you would be more likely to have a drink 12 hours before report, say, finishing before the 8 hour ban. Of course, the 12 units you consume will start to be metabolised as soon as as you start drinking, which rather conveneintly means that you will have zero in your system the next day!

I am not recommending that any of my colleagues take this as "gospel", but it is fairly obvious, that as you drink, your body processes the alcohol. I would also take issue with the statement that everyone metabolises at the same rate. A lot of what I've read would seem to contradict that. Some peoples' bodies do process the alcohol faster, just as some people are 3 sheets to the wind after only one shandy.

The fuss that is kicked up by these stories is unreal, and I'm glad that there is such an eloquent voice of reason, in the form of FL. Of course we shouldn't be over the limit before we fly. But.....even if this guy was, it's a long way from 100s of passengers dying in a smoking wreck! Let's get some perspective!

Oh, and can people stop saying that I can't have a beer within 24 hours of flying, and that I've got some kind of problem if I feel like settling in front of the TV with a beer after a 4 sector day.

Last edited by Slickster; 5th Apr 2007 at 08:52.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 12:48
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Slickster,
I didn't say that everybody metabolises or reacts the same to alcohol, just that the actual alcohol reading will be the same, whether you are somebody who can handle their beer or a little old lady who has a glass of sherry once in a while.
It's true that you will have lost some of your alcohol during your drinking time, but one unit an hour, and not until after the first hour does that take effect.
If i put it like this you will see that it is far from zero by report time.
2 pints an hour for 2 hours before Cutoff time(not unreasonable rate of drinking)
T- 10 hours Start drinking
T- 9 hours 2 x pints consumed - 6 units minus 1 unit 5 units
T- 8 hours 4 x pints consumed 11 units minus 1 unit 10 units
T- 7 hours 9 units
T- 6 hours 8 units
T- 5 hours 7 units
T- 4 hours 6 units
T- 3 hours 5 units
T- 2 hours 4 units
T- 1 hour 3 units
Report time 2 units
I, and i imagine many others would not consider 4 pints much at all, but it just goes to show how even this amount can still have you over the limit for flying certainly.
I only posted this to maybe help people judge what they can or can't drink before either work or driving the next day after drinking, a good nights sleep does not take it all away
Anyway, gone off topic now, so apologies

Flying Lawyer

It may be that my course instructors were wrong about metabolism of alcohol if you have different information, but 1 unit per hour is a reasonable rule of thumb to use
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 13:16
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I don't consider 4 pints a big night out, but more than what I would normally drink at home on an evening, and I would certainly allow more than 8 hours before report if drinking that.....

I need 8 hours sleep most nights (unless its an early), and to stop drinking 8 hours before report for a longhaul flight means less than 6 hours sleep. Not a good idea before operating a longhaul trip in my opinion.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 14:37
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Danger Dont Drink and Fly

So In my opinion, by reading all these threads, most of the flight deck think its ok to fly a plane over the limit? Would you drive your wife and kids home after a night out? Whys it ok to fly a plane with up to 500 other peoples wives and kids? Flying isnt a game, nor is it a club, it our jobs, so lets start acting like proper professionals. And yes if someone has a problem, let them sort it out and deal with the consequences. But lets not all start saying its ok, when its not!
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 14:50
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lordsummerisle
I have no reason to disagree with 1 unit per hour as a reasonable rule of thumb, but it's risky to rely on it because it is only a rule of thumb, and because it's not always easy to identify the total number of units consumed over a period.

The suggestion of 5 units max before the 8 hour 'cut-off' with which pilots are familiar was errs on the side of caution. People might be OK with more but, since the aviation limit is zero or virtually zero (depending upon the relevant country), it's unwise to take the chance.

eg If a pilot upsets someone in the hotel bar, or an airport security guard or some member of the crew etc, and they decide for their own ulterior motives to report a 'suspicion', that wouldn't be a good time to find out that the rule of thumb to which the pilot has conscientiously adhered isn't actually 100% reliable.
Or if a pilot finds himself being breath-tested in these ludicrous circumstances: Link


737319320321
So In my opinion, by reading all these threads, most of the flight deck think its ok to fly a plane over the limit?
Who?


.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 16:23
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lordsummerisle makes a very relevant point in that it is surely a question of education and information? Some do not seem to be aware of the length of time required for alcohol to dissipate from one's system.

During an enforced sabbatical from flying I worked as a Railway Signaller for nearly three years. I must pay tribute to my employers (Network Rail) who briefed us comprehensively on the effects of alcohol (and drugs) and also the company's policy in this respect. The information that lordsummerisle lists was covered in great detail and was also updated on a regular basis. As an employee I knew exactly what the rules were and why they were in force. I could be randomly checked at any time and in the event of an incident/accident all relevant personnel would be screened. I am not suggesting that random testing is required in professional aviation (an arguement which has been covered in other threads before).

Finally perhaps one of the myths which we need to overcome is that imbibing of alcohol makes you sleep better - without going into the details, it does NOT. Your quality and length of sleep will be worse after drinking alcohol and, indeed, it may takes a few sleep cycles to get back to "normal" after a skinful!
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 16:38
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So In my opinion, by reading all these threads, most of the flight deck think its ok to fly a plane over the limit?
I don't see anyone saying that.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 19:37
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Cool B757-200 should you be sat there?

B757-200, you said
"there would only be one suitable pilot to fly the a/c and how can you expect a captain or f/o to handle an Airbus A340-600 in an emergency by himself???"

Presumably you are involved with airline flying with a dumbass name like B757-200. If you are, you should know that anyone qualified to sit in the right-hand seat should be qualified to deal with emergencies and to be able to land an A340-600 single-handed. If you do sit in the right hand seat and cannot envisage such an task - difficult as it is, I would suggest that you should not be sat there in the first d@mn place.
Secondly, what gives you the G@d given right to pass your pathetic viewpoint on in a public domain in the first place?

The fact that the crew member may (or may not) have been in the wrong - the court hearing has not yet happened - flightdeck are human beings. Without predjdice, how about making the possibility of crew reporting for unfit for duty a thing of the past by having a system by-which a crew member can play a "joker" card once or twice a year in which they can call up and report unfit for duty without questions asked? Any more than the allowed twice should prompt investigation (AND SUBSEQUENT HELP - NOT DAMNATION).

?
NH.
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 21:01
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What is a unit of alcohol?

4.4.07 Lord S wrote [snip] “ . . . a small glass of wine is 2 units, . . ”.

I thought this sounded too much, checked on a web site, and found the following – dunno if it is right or not but it is more like what I thought I had read befofe:

http://www.at-bristol.org.uk/Alcohol...cts/units.html

What's a unit?

A UK unit is 10ml or 8 grams of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink depends on what you're drinking - how strong it is and how much there is. You may have seen examples of drinks that contain one unit, but these examples are often out of date, for instance:


Half a pint of 3.5% beer/lager/cider is one unit

BUT many continental lagers are closer to 5% while extra strong lagers can be as strong as 9%!


One small (125 ml) glass of wine at 9% is one unit

BUT who uses small glasses? Certainly not pubs and probably not at home either. Plus most wines are now about 11-13%.”

Just for info. Chris N.
-----------------------------------------
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Old 4th Apr 2007, 23:37
  #117 (permalink)  
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fcom
A pilot would never think of drinking at 9am in the morning if he had a 8pm checkout
Then I can safely assume you have never flown freight from dusk to dawn.
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Old 5th Apr 2007, 00:30
  #118 (permalink)  
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I think you may find that B757-200 is still at school and possibly been sent to bed by now!
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Old 5th Apr 2007, 06:39
  #119 (permalink)  
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Unhappy I think B757-200 made a valid point.

I will not quote his words as many have read and commented on them.

However, on this forum we, as non-pilots, very often see the words "swiss cheese" being mentioned.

From this description of the cause of catastrophic events I imagine the industry would prefer the cheese to have many fewer holes and the holes be much smaller.

Now, as pilots you know you are flying a complex machine closely coupled to a human interface, even when everything is functioning 100%, aircraft, pilots, ground and spaced based nav aids, when something fails you guys up the front earn your pay check. (insert here the countless times the pilots saved the day)

I think the point B757-200 was not trying to make but asking "Why even take off when one of the 2 humans up the front was not functioning"

All the replies were how the other pilot could fly it alone and it was no big deal, pilot incapacitation is trained in the sim.

In flight emergency, no problem!

The holes in the cheese line up when you have only one pilot up the front AND an emergency.

Do they train that in a sim?

(Thinking of a certain BAC 1-11 incident)

I think the best thing is the slices of swiss cheese that sit in the front seats are as close to Mozzarella asthey can be.
 
Old 5th Apr 2007, 06:51
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I think part of the problem here is that those of us who do not have an alcohol problem cannot really understand the issues associated with alcohol dependency. It's the same with smoking or other drug addiction, saying "just give up then" fails to appreciate the hold the drug has over the brain and body.

Of course, there's no public evidence in this case to show whether it's a one-off stupid (and potentially costly) mistake, the first sign of a long-term problem or problems with the instrumentation giving a false reading.

All I can say to the person at the centre of it is that someone appears to have screwed up, good luck in resolving the issues.
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