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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 22nd Oct 2008, 13:10
  #61 (permalink)  
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Hmmmmm. I don't read anywhere in Carnage's posts that he thinks pilots should be allowed alcohol in their system, not even by inference. I think perhaps you need to read them again.
 
Old 22nd Oct 2008, 13:28
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I can bring myself to admit in these columns that on numerous occasions I could be found in the cockpit in no fit state to be flying... making unforced errors... unable to focus on the job in hand... I should have been marched out of the cockpit, shamed for showing a callous disregard for my fellow crew and passengers for having even walked onto the aircraft...
Only it wasn't due to alcohol it was fatigue....
So... that's alright then.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 13:37
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Carnage, I think you are the one missing the point. I don’t condone or agree with tired pilots, any more than I condone tired land rover drivers who crash on to railway lines and cause the death of railway passengers.

However, there is no doubt that aclohol impairs ability, and there is a simple test for it. Just because there isn’t such a simple test for tiredness does not invalidate the test for alcohol. This thread isn’t discussing tiredness, which is a red herring, its discussing the possibility of drunk pilots. Just because there is no reliable test for a dangerously impaired pilot due to tiredness doesn’t invalidate the test – or the potential ramifications – of being impaired due to drink.

Legally, there is a definition of “drunk” as applies to the operating of aeroplanes. Its quite clear, and everyone knows what it is. If someone contravenes that definition then they are breaking the law. Since you ask, as a potential passenger of yours I am concerned about impairement In any form. One well known reason for impairment is alcohol, so if there is a test for it then I am in favour. Were there a reliable test for tiredness I would be in favour of that as well.

There is another difference. A pilot severly impaired by exhaustion will be aware of it, and if he is a responsible person should (and I admit to outside pressures) recognise his inability to fly. One of the features of being inebriated is a an increase in self-confidence and an inability to recognise one's own limitatations. That is an important difference.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 13:41
  #64 (permalink)  

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pvmw,

I would like to point out one tiny flaw in your reasoning, but I can't see one just at the moment.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 13:53
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MungoP. No, that’s not all right then. If you really mean what you have just said – and please read it again - then you have just stated publically your willingness to risk yours and, more importantly, your passengers' lives. Please tell me which airline you fly for, so I can be very sure never to be a passenger of yours.

Marched out of the cockpit? No. Declined to fly on the grounds of a self-recognised impairment. DEFINITELY. Your admission clearly states that you are prepared to put others lives at risk. Would you expect a surgeon, or even your dentist, to operate on you when aware that they were too tired to perform their job adequately and safely.

To be frank, your post is one of the scariest things I’ve read on here from a “professional”.

Farmer1…. Its OK, I’ve just been down the pub to meet an old colleague (and before anyone asks I got a lift) so my reasoning ability is probably seriously impaired!
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 13:56
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A pilot severly impaired by exhaustion will be aware of it
Hmm, not necessarily.
Defective brain analysing defective brain (fatigue, tiredness, drugs inc alc & cigs, O2 deficiency, high N2 pp in diving , age related slowing, psychiatric problems etc)

. . and before anyone asks: Probably all but one - I think
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:06
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Paull :

The permitted alcohol levels for flying were reduced in Europe a couple of years ago. As I understand it they were reduced to 'above zero', the minimum detectable by sophisticated techniques. This was done not for scientific reasons - ie because it could be proved that alcohol levels 'above zero' were unsafe for flying - but for political, tabloid publicity reasons.
Any shock by a statistician should surely be reserved for pointless law rather than the idea that a pilot might, only might, have alcohol levels 'above zero' for whatever reason. Mouthwash has already been mentioned, but there are others.
"Hold my beer" comments are unhelpful and gratuitous.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:23
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er... "hold my beer"????? What has that to do with it? Who mentioned beer?

I'm not sure of your point. There are clearly published limits. They are not zero - as you imply, residual alcohol exists in the body anyway - but are known to everyone. If they are exceeded then one has broken the law, whether flying or driving. Why is that so difficult for some people to accept???

I really find it hard to understand why anyone would argue the point. Any alcohol is detrimental to complex tasks. If the only person at risk is the drinker, I have some sympathy for the "on your own head be it" approach, I used to have a colleague who removed the ends of several fingers of one hand in his bandsaw - he liked a pint - but this is obviously not the case.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:25
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pvmw.

Methinks your lunchtime session has rendered you somewhat tired and emotional. Yours is certainly one of the more sensationalist responses I've seen on here for a while. Best go for a lie down and when you've had a nap look up 'irony' in the dictionary before re-reading Mungo's post.

Originally Posted by pvmw
my reasoning ability is probably seriously impaired!
Shhhurely not?
 
Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:29
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AH! The argument is lost, its time to apply the personal abuse. Well done, I'd hoped the topic serious enough for that not to happen. I've said my piece, I shall retire. I just hope some posters here re-read their posts and consider what they have said.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:31
  #71 (permalink)  
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Personal abuse? Where?

All I've done is suggest that you missed the irony in Mungo's post and reiterate your own admission that your judgement is impaired. If that upsets you perhaps you shouldn't post such admissions in the first place?


I just hope some posters here re-read their posts and consider what they have said.
Et tu Brute?

Anyone who wishes to ignore or dismiss fatigue or doesn't 'get' posts such as Mungo's clearly does not understand how it affects we professional pilots. To say it's irrelevant in the context of this thread merely serves to highlight their ignorance.

Make no mistake, fatigue is a bigger threat in aviation than alcohol or drugs and I'm happy to discuss or debate that with anyone capable of doing so with first hand knowledge. Registration collectors and aircraft spotters however may start their own thread here http://www.pprune.org/spectators-bal...ers-corner-52/

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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:42
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Damn!!

I missed the lesson on irony, I was down the pub.

I'll retire hurt for a strong coffee
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 14:55
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PVMW.. I can promise you that if trutheful, the overwhelming majority of high time pilots on these forums who've been flying scheduled ops will agree that they also have found themselves rostered to fly when fatigued (different to simply being tired)...
Body clocks are a very real problem when working the back of the clock...
fatigue has played a major part in many accidents... and will continue to do so.
If you have a fear of flying with a crew that's suffering from fatigue I suggest that you go by car/boat and train.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 15:34
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Originally Posted by pvmw
However, there is no doubt that aclohol impairs ability, and there is a simple test for it.
Oooh now we're getting somewhere. There is a simple test for alcohol. The test you are endorsing is not a test for impaired ability, so why are you endorsing it? Is it because it feels right to you. You see you are taking a moral stance against alcohol in this thread, but what you are advocating as a solution is scientifically indefensible.

Just because there isn’t such a simple test for tiredness does not invalidate the test for alcohol.
You have to validate the test for alcohol before you can invalidate it. It has never been validated. It is simply a comparison against a magic number plucked out of thin air.

This thread isn’t discussing tiredness, which is a red herring, its discussing the possibility of drunk pilots. Just because there is no reliable test for a dangerously impaired pilot due to tiredness doesn’t invalidate the test – or the potential ramifications – of being impaired due to drink.
Once again, you're not testing impairment due to drunkeness or otherwise. All you are testing is the sensitivity of an electronic contraption. Are you starting to see the problem now?

Legally, there is a definition of “drunk” as applies to the operating of aeroplanes. Its quite clear, and everyone knows what it is.
No there isn't, no it's not and no they don't.

Since you ask, as a potential passenger of yours I am concerned about impairement In any form. One well known reason for impairment is alcohol, so if there is a test for it then I am in favour.
I'm glad we agree on that then. If there was a test for impairment I'd be in favour of it too. If there is a test that has people arrested for levels of alcohol that have been achieved due to a dietary regime without the consumption of alcohol with no regard as to impairment then I want to see some justification for it other than "Something must be done, just in case".

A pilot severly impaired by exhaustion will be aware of it, and if he is a responsible person should (and I admit to outside pressures) recognise his inability to fly.
It doesn't work like that. You may not be aware of it at all. It may strike you late at night in the middle of the Atlantic. What do you do then? Get off? Remove yourself from flying duties mid-flight leaving the other (potentially equally tired) pilot to fend for themselves in the subsequent diverson? Or just think " I'll be ok, I'll press on. A couple of cups of coffee will fix me"

One of the features of being inebriated is a an increase in self-confidence and an inability to recognise one's own limitatations. That is an important difference.
Do find that after half a pint of weak beer you feel an increase in self-confidence and an inability to recognise your own limitations? That much alcohol would put you over the flying alcohol limit.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 15:35
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one rule to rule them all ?

Is it not time that everyone with an airside pass should be judged by these same limits (we'd really like to make it zero, but we can't) ?


Presumably if you're on the "airfield" you have some role to play in flight safety and "we'd" like you to be at your best !

When will aircrew start introducing the security staff / apron marshallers / bowser drivers - to the boys and girls in blue ?

Or shall we hear it for random testing for ALL (and perhaps we could include other drugs as well ?)


as the great man said in his song "stir it uup"
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 15:45
  #76 (permalink)  
 
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Airfolk, Just follow the law:

as some of you all may not know [mainly directed to the punters] that US air law ---in determining civil penalties is--- administrative--- not procedural---therefore you are guilty until proven innocent and the penalties once assessed against an airman subsequently have to be appealed in a looooooooong series of trial-like hearings before an administrative law judge-----

---hearings which may include a a final arbitration involving the NTSB---so you definitely can not jump to conclusions--many people in various professions have difficulty with substances---and it may surprise you that the FAA recognizes this and does provide avenues for reinstatement of privileges in so-called safety sensitive functions--in fact a NWA pilot was reinstated to his duties--- after a jail sentence and revocation of his license after rehab-- if the FAA could provide---an avenue it would be nice if the passengers would not comment on a complex issue that they really can't understand---as the pilot involved have to still prove their cases it will be a long time and cost him dearly in money/lawyers/etc etc...so why not let him have his trial if you're willing to wait about 4 years then we can revisit these pilots personal lives with a fair and balanced discussion--until then


Lester

Last edited by Pugilistic Animus; 22nd Oct 2008 at 16:44. Reason: absymal spelling
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 16:06
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Whatever the theory, with good legal representation, some luck and a sympathetic jury, hopefully the pilot will get off like the one in Manchester a couple of years ago:

Jury forgives pilot who 'drank whiskey in sleep'

By Russell Jenkins in London

March 23, 2007 03:19am

AN American Airlines pilot arrested at an airport after reportedly arriving for duty drunk was found not guilty yesterday after telling a jury that he must have consumed a third of a bottle of Irish whiskey in his sleep...


...He claimed a sleeping disorder might have led him to drink from a bottle of Bushmills whiskey the night before.

...He slapped colleagues on the back and grinned with delight when the verdict was announced.
Jury acquits pilot who 'drank whiskey in sleep' | NEWS.com.au
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 16:15
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Damn! I was going to keep my head down, but……..

To reply to Carnage’s points:-

ANY alcohol impirs ability. There is a test for alcohol, so by default if that test is failed there is impairment. It may be there has to be an arbitrary level but no-one is suggesting making pilots walk in a straight line or recite the alphabet backwards on the tarmac instead.

One of my winter pastimes is driving tests – otherwise known as autotests. I can win them (it’s a good car). A few years ago I had a error-free morning and was on target to win – then I had one pint with my lunch. I spent the afternoon knocking cones down all over the place. I was very disconcerted to find out how much my judgement was impaired, but in normal circumstances on the road I would never have been aware of it.

The ideal would be absolutely no alcohol, but that isn’t feasible. A measured level is the next best thing. OK, any measurement has to be arbitrary, but its better than no measurement at all.

As far as comparing tiredness and inebriation as both being causes for impaired ability I accept that entirely – but there is a difference. In both cases there is potential for error, but if you are dozing quietly in your seat late at night and there is a very loud bang adrenalin will ensure you are awake bloody fast – but it won’t instantly sober you if you are drunk. A tired person can wake up, albiet with possible slight impairment, but a drunk one can’t suddenly become sober and capable of sensible decision making.

I really have trouble understanding why this is a topic of conversation. Drinking and driving is stupid (and illegal) and surely no-one is claiming that the same is not true of drinking and flying. I think the issue of tiredness is a red herring. I hear what you say, and I accept it’s a problem, that doesn’t mean the issue of alcohol impairement is any less important.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 17:00
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A tired person can wake up
Yes, to the fact that he was too tired to notice that he'd overlooked some vital action.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 17:24
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ANY alcohol impirs[sic] ability
Now from a scientific standpoint thats plainly a preposterous claim. What about 0.000000000001% blood alcohol? If you want a reasoned debate on this subject you can't start bandying around Daily Mail style claims like that. Alcohol, in sufficent blood concentrations, will impair ability. The goal is to remove alcohol impairment fom the flight deck. On those two points I think we agree. The question is 'What is a sufficient blood alcohol concentration?', and the answer is not widely known because the authorities are not particularly interested in the answer.

I am pleased that you can win driving tests and not in the least bit surprised that your skills were impaired by having a pint with your lunch, but thats not the kind of levels of blood alcohol I'm talking about. Its quite reasonable to expect somebody who drank that amount of alcohol immediately prior to flying to be over the limit. But what if they had that the night before? Would that be criminal? We've seen that even the calibrated breathalysers can return positive results from people who've not touched a drop. What does that say to you about the threshold at which the limit is set? Do you think the measured level is presently reasonable when I could possibly return a positive result simply by going on a diet?

As far as comparing tiredness and inebriation as both being causes for impaired ability I accept that entirely – but there is a difference. In both cases there is potential for error, but if you are dozing quietly in your seat late at night and there is a very loud bang adrenalin will ensure you are awake bloody fast – but it won’t instantly sober you if you are drunk
I beg to differ. For a start if you are dozing in your seat the very loud bang you hear may be you hitting a mountainside. Why not try tracking down some of the graphs which show human performance versus stimulation levels. You'll find performance in the circumstances you describe much poorer than you expect. Having rapidly been placed in the over-stimulated zone of the graph you need to be tip top to get yourself back into a decent performance range and no amount of adrenalin will bring you back into it if you can't think straight. If you're 'drunk' as you like to say, then you're not going to perform well either. But nobody is going to get into a flight deck 'drunk' because it's easy to spot. In comparison a guy who's fractionally above the virtually zero alcohol limit but rested will perform much better in the scenario described than one who is at absolute zero alcohol but tired. In any circumstances. So why get hungup on achieving as near as dammit an absolute zero alcohol limit when you're still prepared to get into an aircraft with a knackered pilot?

The issue of alcohol impairment is important, but the key word is IMPAIRMENT. Introduce the word DRUNK and you take the argument away from the rational and towards moral pronouncements. If you want to talk about impairment then fretting about whether the alcohol limit is zero, nearly zero or somewhere above is like worrying that a mosquito has bitten your backside whilst you're standing in the lions den covered in steak.
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