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Sun Article - US Pilot Arrested for being over alcohol limit

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Sun Article - US Pilot Arrested for being over alcohol limit

Old 21st Oct 2008, 17:04
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One of Two

Heathrow to San Francisco nonstop would have cockpit crew of three...Capt and two fully rated First Officers...not advocating or condoning anything, but that might have entered into the Capt's thinking...the flight could have legally operated to JFK or Dulles with a crew change Capt and F/O and then onto SFO. I know UAL operates EGLL to KJFK (or did) with two pilots year-round. Board the accused as a pax, operate the flight with minimal impact to the customers...by waiting 3 hours to shanghai another F/O from downtown London hotel to operate nonstop, the crew exceeded duty limits and had to go to New York anyway....either that or the "shanghaiee" had legality problems due to his/her short layover, etc., that were discovered enroute, causing the divert. Always mindful that SPECULATION and FORUM are the operative words in this case.
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 17:23
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Darrylj, I didn’t say he was over the limit.

John R, I made an assumption based on your public profile. That says you are a PPL. Now we both know you can’t be in command on a commercial jet, with a PPL.

You also mentioned that “The commander owes a legal duty of care to his passengers and crew for whom he is legally responsible” that statement is correct…but it doesn’t mean the commander has to call the police as a first resort. If you had had a command, you would know who that first phone call goes to.
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 21:29
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What is the legal limit?

Does it vary between different countries and if so are you held to your registration or state you are in?


Cheers.
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 22:00
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Alcohol consumption rules FAA (USA) and observed by many other nations as well.
No drinking 8 hours before flight (FAR 91 applies to any and all flying).
xxx
Many airlines or commercial operators are more restrictive and apply other limits.
Rules are specified in their own GOM...
Some apply a rule of "12 hrs before takeoff time".
Other airlines wording is "12 hrs before start of duty time" generally starts 1 hr before scheduled T/O.
xxx

Happy contrails
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 22:01
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The aviation regulations (in the UK, at least) simply state that a pilot must not have consumed alcohol to the extent that his 'capacity to act' is affected. All mention of arbitrary limits is therefore legally irrelevant, in that context, and only a test of some kind, which would assess the functional ability of the pilot, would be acceptable in order to establish his 'ability to act'. Breathe alcohol and 'bottle to throttle' time limits are now part of most pilot's company contracts, but they are not state minimums, as far as I am aware. My company regularly tests my compliance pre-flight, which has a zero tolerance and I comply with that. However, the media assessment that a pilot is 'drunk' when he marginally exceeds a non-applicable state limit is defamatory.

Last edited by 777fly; 21st Oct 2008 at 22:03. Reason: spelling
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 22:21
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In the UK the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 is the relevant legislation.

From that Act
A person commits an offence if he performs an aviation function at a time when his ability to perform the function is impaired because of drink or drugs, or he carries out an activity which is ancillary to an aviation function at a time when his ability to perform the function is impaired because of drink or drugs.

A person commits an offence if he performs an aviation function at a time when the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit, or he carries out an activity which is ancillary to an aviation function at a time when the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.

The prescribed limit of alcohol for pilots is
breath, 9 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres,
blood, 20 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres
urine, 27 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres.
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 22:26
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UK limit here.
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Old 21st Oct 2008, 23:36
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Eglnyt and Basil

Thank you for updating me on the UK legislation.Does the UK ANO now promulgate those limits? Maybe I have been overseas for too long. However, my company regulations keep me on the straight and narrow at all times, regardless. Nevertheless, a pilot who is marginally over the minimal limits cannot be fairly described as 'drunk'.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 08:10
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777fly - 'My company regularly tests my compliance pre-flight, which has a zero tolerance and I comply with that'.

Which compnay does this?

I'm from a different part of the world and am really a bit amazed that there aren't random spot checks for crews at UK airports; nothing major - just a quick 'here, blow into this' type of check.

What really strikes me as odd is that neither of the two companies I have flown for have had any kind of drug testing policy, either scheduled or random.

In a former life I dived in the US oil fields and there were constant drug tests; what is the policy for US airlines in regards to drugs testing?

Cheers

Buter

Ah - 777, Just read your profile.

Also, perhaps we should just put up a 'Drunk ---------- pilot arrested at ---------' thread as a sticky and each time this happens fill in the blanks with the correct airline and airport/country. This discussion is always the same with the 'shoot him now' and 'I hope he never flies again' crowd vs. the 'wait for the trial/blood test results' crowd.

Personally I hope he never flies again - because he hadn't drank a thing and he's won a massive libel suit against the media and his company and has now retired to a small, private island in the sun.

Win/win that way, really. Sort of.

Last edited by Buter; 22nd Oct 2008 at 08:18. Reason: observation and opinion
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 09:31
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A comment directed primarily to max_cont

As a mere “SLF” – and how patronising a phrase is that – who helps design and build the toys you play in, I seriously hope I never fly in an aeroplane in which you are in command.

Consider if you would another scenario. Pilot turns up over the limit, you “have a word” in his ear as has been suggested, suggest he calls in sick and send him home. A few weeks later he arrives for work in a similar state, but this time his condition isn’t noticed. Potential result of intoxicated pilot – several hundred dead passengers.

Sorry, but you are so very, very wrong. Your primary responsibility is to your passengers, not to your colleagues. If he has a problem that causes him to turn up to work intoxicated, he will do it again until he is either eventually caught or he makes a mistake so obvious it can’t be hidden – which in the worse case scenario will cause passengers to die. It would appear that your solution to the problem might be to hush it up and have it sorted “internally”. If he did turn up drunk with the intention to fly, then he has broken the law. By not reporting him, presumably that means you are proposing that you and your company compound a felony?

I’ll also comment on your patronising response to John R. He may not have your exalted staus, but he is still entitled to an opinion, indeed as a potential passenger who may have the misfortune to be YOUR passenger, he is one of the people paying your wages. He has every right to expect that his safety is your and your employers primary concern, not the well being of a colleague - who I accept may well have serious personal problems.

I’m not pre-judging the outcome of this case, or commenting on it. If he was over the limit, then that will be established. If not, he will be vindicated and, as Buter observes, may well end up getting compensation by other means.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 09:36
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Originally Posted by pvmw
A few weeks later he arrives for work in a similar state, but this time his condition isn’t noticed. Potential result of intoxicated pilot – several hundred dead passengers.
Can you give us an example from the long history of commercial aviation in which a drunk pilot has crashed an aircraft and killed passengers? Just out of curiousity.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 09:41
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Ah, so its never happened (and how can you prove that). Thats OK then, what are we all worrying about!!

Can you guarantee that a drunk pilot never will? Plenty of drunk drivers kill people on the roads daily, perhaps flying an aeroplane is easier.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 09:48
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History

Because of course if it hasn't happened to date it can surely be assumed that it won't happen in the future.......heres an idea, let anyone flight all sorts of aircraft and training can be introduced if someone crashes....how much will that save!
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 09:54
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Ah, so its never happened (and how can you prove that). Thats OK then, what are we all worrying about!!
The post-mortem toxicology reports well tell if it's happened. And it hasn't. So what are you worrying about?

Can you guarantee that a drunk pilot never will? Plenty of drunk drivers kill people on the roads daily, perhaps flying an aeroplane is easier
How many drunk drivers have killed people in cars fitted with dual controls? I'm going to have a guess at zero. Your comparisons are invalid for a whole range of reasons which have been explained on these forums ad nauseam. You are getting your knickers in a twist because someone mentioned the demon word 'alcohol', yet you'd turn up for a flight on which both the pilots are so tired they can barely keep their eyes open without batting an eyelid. Think about it.

BTW I can't guarantee a drunk pilot wil never crash a plane but I can tell you a few unhinged ones have deliberately murdered all their passengers. Perhaps I should have a psychiatric assessment each time I go to work?
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 10:04
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Are you serious!

Carnage. I am quite astounded by your comments. You are either playing devils advocate here to get a rise from the serious professionals in the industry or it appears that you condone drinking and flying! That you seem to think that because there is no proven case of a serious accident as a result of a drunk pilot there is no need to make such a fuss, is beyond comprehesion and display massive lack of judgement. I trust I never have the misfortune to sit behind you on any aircraft!
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 10:09
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Er, no I wouldn’t – if I knew they were unfit to fly. Unfortunately that is much more subjective and there isn’t a simple medical test that can tell me. There is a simple test to tell me if someone has been drinking. I wouldn’t get in a car with a drunk driver, dual controls or not. If your guess is correct (and I concede it probably is) is that not because the only cars with dual controls belong to driving instructors – and they are not going to allow a drunk learner behind the wheel of their car? I know a couple of instructors, I’m now curious to know what their reaction would be. I’m pretty sure they would refuse to teach the pupil again, but whether ther is any further sanction they could take I’m unsure.

So drunk pilots are OK, as long as only one of them is?? Do you really mean that?

Agreeed, unhinged pilots have killed passengers – but again, there isn’t a simple medical test that can be performed before each flight. You may not have a psychiatric test every time you go to work, but you are regularly assessed – and any good employer will see the signs before they reach the point of catastrophy. You are not comparing like with like.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 10:31
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Be warned!

Whilst there are some FD & CC like to knock them back, just remember there is often someone watching you!

You never know who your company employs to sit there and observe quietly in the cosy corner of the Hotel bar.

I know certain high street does this when it sends its staff off on courses & conferences. The "Grim Reapers" awaits those who return having over indulged with a P45!

C.N.

Last edited by Captain Numpty; 22nd Oct 2008 at 11:03.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 10:48
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elgnin and pvmw - yet again you are both completely missing the point. If you want to talk about safety lets talk about safety. Re tiredness:

Unfortunately that is much more subjective and there isn’t a simple medical test that can tell me. There is a simple test to tell me if someone has been drinking.
So you'll overlook the tiredness problem because it's just too difficult to test for? But the drinking one we'll check because that is easier to test for? How does that fit in in with your overall safety outlook? We'll let the dangerously impaired pilot fly because we can't be @rsed to test him but the less impaired guy goes to jail?

Originally Posted by elgnin
That you seem to think that because there is no proven case of a serious accident as a result of a drunk pilot there is no need to make such a fuss, is beyond comprehesion and display massive lack of judgement
Do you know that until 5 or 6 years ago there was no legislation relating to alcohol consumption and flying? What was happening before then? Were aircraft dropping from the sky? Were drunken pilots colliding with each other all over the place? Of course they weren't, so perhaps the whole thing is statistically insignificant? Do you sit in your shed with tin foil on your head to stop the aliens controlling your mind on the basis that just because it hasn't happened it could? Or do you take a more common sense approach to life?

Originally Posted by pvmw
So drunk pilots are OK, as long as only one of them is?? Do you really mean that?
Define 'drunk'. Let me also ask you what you are really concerned about. Is it drunkeness, or is it impairment of flying ability that worries you?
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 11:15
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I'm from a different part of the world and am really a bit amazed that there aren't random spot checks for crews at UK airports; nothing major - just a quick 'here, blow into this' type of check.
Could get the Security Screeners to do it !

ok. perhaps i should withdraw this flippant comment before someone get the idea !
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 11:57
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Carnage, of course aircraft have not been dropping from the sky and god forbid that they ever do due to a drunk pilot. But like all legislation it is put in place because someone abuses the system (generally). I remain unclear as to why exactly you give the impression that pilots should be allowed to have some alcohol in their system when taking command of a passenger aircraft. There are limits in place now - forget what was not there in the past - and they have to be observed. I further cannot see what statistics have to do with it - I repeat an earlier comment that it would be irresponsible at best to wait for such an event to happen before putting limits in place.
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