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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, 17:55
  #81 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Carnage Matey!
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.
There you have it in a nutshell. Anyone who has spent the briefest period in a commercial aviation environment will recognise this for what it is.

Those on the outside banging righteous drums and focussing (or not) on the wrong things might just hear the whistling of the point going over their heads.
 
Old 22nd Oct 2008, 18:51
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I must confess I’m puzzled that this argument continues. Let me précis as I see it….

No-one has suggested that flying while intoxicated is sensible, safe or legal, any more than driving a car isn't

Everyone agrees that a policy of absolutely zero tolerance to any alcohol in the blood is a non-starter (snide remarks about the Mail withstanding), Listerine, small levels of naturally occurring alcohol etc.

Some people, due to illness, addiction (same thing?), stupidity (a very small minority I’d hope) or possibly carelessness are found to have significant levels of alcohol in their blood.

“Significant” is totally subjective, and therefore it is not possible to arrest, ban or otherwise chastise someone on the basis of it.

The ingestion of significant quantities of alcohol result in “impairment” of one’s abilities – I have absolutely no difficulty with using this word instead of drunk. One’s abilities are impaired long before one becomes drunk.

The accepted, normal means of judging someone’s level of alcohol, and therefore intoxication, is by means of a blood/alcohol test.

Everyone knows this, motorists and pilots alike.

The permitted levels are known.

It is the responsibility of the subject to ensure he is within the law.

The issue of tiredness is an entirely separate issue. It also causes impairment, tho’ possibly not to the same degree unless comatose or so exhausted as to be incapable of rational thought. To claim there is no subjective means of measuring tiredness does not negate the need to have a means of measuring intoxication - unless one gives up entirely and relies on self regulation (and human nature means this won't work)

It would appear, from some of the responses to previous posts, that I am in error in some of the above assumptions!!!!!

Oh, and someone with a sense of humour is responsible for one of the banner ads at the bottom of this page!

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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 19:08
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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...
Why not declaring yourself unfit for flying because of fatigue? Is there any rule that does not allow you do that?
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 19:32
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Can I remind you last two contributors that this forum is for professional pilots. Isn't there somewhere else you'd prefer to be?
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 19:35
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pvmw
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, at least not in UK law.

Also, your latest post suggests you can now see that you were confusing Alcohol Exceeding the Prescribed Limit (proportion of alcohol in breath, blood or urine exceeding the prescribed limit) and Being Unfit for Duty (ability to perform an aviation function impaired because of drink or drugs).
They are two very different offences.
'Alcohol Exceeding the Prescribed Limit' may be committed even if ability is not impaired.
'Being Unfit for Duty' may be committed without being drunk.
‘Drunk’ is not an element of either offence. ie Both offences may be committed even if the person concerned is not drunk.


It's important to keep some sense of perspective:
  • There is not, and never has been, any evidence of a widespread flight safety problem due alcohol, despite the misleading impression which might be created by some sensationalist reporting of isolated incidents - and the failure to give the same amount of prominent coverage when a suspect turns out to be innocent.
  • The aviation provisions in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 were not introduced to combat a problem.
Before the 2003 Act, the relevant UK law was contained in the ANO which provided that no member of an aircraft’s crew, LAME or ATC officer should be under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to impair his/her capacity to so act. (The law did not set an alcohol limit, nor did it require a person suspected of a drink or drugs offence to submit to a breath-test.)
The 2003 Act merely provided a convenient opportunity to bring aviation into line with other transport modes by introducing a statutory testing regime, and was part of a harmonisation of standards across most of Europe, reflecting Joint Aviation Requirements Commercial Air Transportation (JAR-OPS) adopted by the JAA in 1996.


Edited for typos, and also because I forgot to say -

Airbubba (Post #80)
The headline of the press story to which you refer, and your selective quotes from it, create a misleading impression.
The pilot said he realised he should not be flying, had no intention of doing so and did not report for duty.
The judge left the jury with a clear decision to make -
If they were sure he intended to fly: Guilty.
Otherwise: Not Guilty.
The jury found him Not Guilty - in less than an hour.

FL

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 22nd Oct 2008 at 20:42.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 19:50
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Can I remind you last two contributors that this forum is for professional pilots. Isn't there somewhere else you'd prefer to be?
Please ban me from the forum...
Fatigue. Captain declared fatigue/exceed duty time after he diverted to Macau from ORD, if you recall? Per his letter, he seemed to get little support from the company. So, being responsible, he rented hotel rooms for his crew with his own credit card. He was excellent.
Well...the thread about such "declared fatigue" was long... and I did dispute if the rooms were rented because of fatigue or due to union issues.
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 20:00
  #87 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Frequent SLF
Please ban me from the forum...
Request granted.

Here to help.



Duck.
 
Old 22nd Oct 2008, 20:45
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The pilot said he realised he should not be flying and had no intention of doing so.
Yeah, right.

Like the Virgin pilot at IAD, he showed up at the airport in uniform, went through security and suddenly had no intention of going flying after he got caught.

You can BS the fans but you can't BS the
players...
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Old 22nd Oct 2008, 23:27
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Fatigue has entered the argument, but this might be too far off thread ?

We had a co-pilot ‘down the line’ next scheduled to fly A to C direct, but was given advance warning that he would be required to increase the duty period by flying A to B and then on to C. i.e two sectors instead of the planned single sector.

He advised he company that he would be too tired to operate beyond B, but there was sufficient time to provide a replacement at B to operate B to C, and he was willing to fly A to B.

The company ( I've worked for 3, so no names ) asked him if he was refusing to fly, as he wasn’t tired at that stage, and if so would be suspended and returned to base, and another pilot would be positioned to fly A to B to C. He replied that he wasn’t tired now, but would be having completed A to B. ( there were circumstances affecting this decision which aren’t relevant here ) He therefore flew both sectors under duress.

The next time the same scenario was presented, that co-pilot quietly accepted the change, and flew from A to B – then asked to see a Dr. who declared him too fatigued to continue and the flight ( and passengers ) was delayed at B whilst he gained legal rest. Courageous decision.

There are many pressures, and we all know the rules and it isn’t for us to pontificate on how we sometimes interpret them – in all aspects of Life. “There But For The Grace of God “ ………………… Best of luck
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 06:27
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A similar scenario, different part of the world, different standards and outcome:

ANA copilot fails alcohol test, causing delay to flight from Naha Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 07:21
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I wonder what would have happened after a N/S in the Bristol BEY or the Pan Afric in NBO?
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 10:41
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Whinging Tinny,
Of course in Japan the profession & the individual in this profession probably still command some respect. . . . . just like in Europe ( not)
As we see on this thread there are any number of non-pilots only too glad to jump down our throats and tell us how reckless we are etc etc even if their personal behaviour in many cases would probably not stand close scrutiny.
In this ANA case it seems common sense triumphed over jobsworths for once, a rare occasion indeed. BTW if his testimony is right it seems he obeyed the company rules but just had a lower tolerance than Captainsan.
Individual tolerances vary massively of course day by day so very difficult to lay a hard and fast rule unless you want to say "only drink on your days off - but not the last one of course" a little draconian methinks.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 11:29
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C'mon fellas, isn't this a bit of a no-brainer?
If the pilot knows the legal and company rules regarding alcohol levels, then he should apply some sense with regards how much he consumes in the hours before he flies.

The individuals tolerance to alcohol and their ability to conduct their job safely is far too varied and subjective to be completely assessed, hence some form of datum has to be defined that applies to all. Whether he/she can drink 20 pints and still be standing, or falls over at the smell of shandy is irrelevant.

Finally allow the pilots blood-alcohol results to be publicly published, hopefully to the same extent as his arrest, before he gets his nuts ppruned on here.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 12:00
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captplaystation

In response, the link I posted was for comparison only.
I have not voiced any views on this subject.

Probably a better phrase to use would be 'different procedures' in lieu of 'different standards'.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 12:28
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Exactly, there is always more than one way to skin a cat, and this option at least left it able to continue to chase mice.
Or to speak in plain English, the lesson will have been learned by this F/O and no doubt any of his colleagues with a modicum of imagination without hanging his balls out to dry ( although, the article says he was used to operate this flight - which may just have been commercial expediency- it doesn't however give any details of the welcoming commitee which greeted him on return from his trip, what is Japanese for P45 ? )
No one defends showing up for work incapable of performing the function, however with the limit set SO low ( basically as low as they could measure seems to be the idea) perhaps jumping to condemn can be taken as mildly offensive to those of us in the profession and that is why we jump in to defend.
As Fying Lawyer pointed out, there is a difference in terms of the offence between exceeding a pre-determined very low limit and being incapable. Both are against the rules, however it would be relatively easy to breach the former even without consumption of alcohol.
Considering the behaviour seen in society as a whole and the stresses associated with many aspects of this job ( how many colleagues do you know NOT on a 2nd or 3rd marriage ? ) I find it quite heartening that there are not a hell of a lot more incidents like this, or worse. Of course basic human frailty or fallability is strictly forbidden by those casting withering comment from outside the profession .
Lets discuss alcoholism and Doctors instead, statistically more of a "problem profession" I am sure ,or indeed the sobriety of those screwing up the world economy over the last decade or few, the red-braces crowd have never been noted for abstaining, and how much damage have they wreaked on society with their decisions. I think those holding the moral high ground should look at the record of the industry so far, how many pissed pilots have been responsible for accidents ? QED.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 13:54
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I think there is an education issue here also. When I started working in the Railway Industry as a Signaller there was, during the initial training, comprehensive information given on their screening system for drugs and alcohol and also things like the alcohol content in different beverages and, more importantly, just how LONG it can take for alcohol to be dispersed from the system.

As a professional pilot I know that without exception all the flight crew I have come into contact with take the issue of being fit to fly very seriously. In certain isolated cases though individuals may not be aware that they are over the statutory limits because, quite simply, they have not been given the relevant information.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 16:17
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There is not, and never has been, any evidence of a widespread flight safety problem due alcohol, despite the misleading impression which might be created by some sensationalist reporting of isolated incidents - and the failure to give the same amount of prominent coverage when a suspect turns out to be innocent.
In certain isolated cases though individuals may not be aware that they are over the statutory limits because, quite simply, they have not been given the relevant information.
Well, we seem to have a little more concern about such things in the U.S. We've done drug and alcohol testing on pilots for years now and there is definitely a problem from what I can see. Every couple of months, almost without fail, a crewmember will test positive at any major carrier. If anything, the issue is under reported in the media and often cases are handled quietly inhouse.

Most U.S. airlines have a HIMS program ( HIMS - A Substance Abuse Treatment Program For Commercial Pilots ). The FE in the 1990 Northwest Fargo alcohol incident is active in this field and has assisted several companies with setting up recognition and treatment programs. I realize this is a somewhat novel concept in other countries.

I think the problem is real, and we're addressing it much more than in the past, in the U.S. at least.

Last edited by Airbubba; 23rd Oct 2008 at 21:05.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 18:45
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Throtles and bottles...

I share AirBubba's opinion about the problem of alcohol and drugs with pilots.
Not only in the USA, but worldwide. The nature of concerns varies from one country to another.
And it also varies with the social traditions and environment.
And what can be said about pilots... applies as well to driving cars.
xxx
I was born in Brussels. Old fart here, so "long ago".
Belgians have Germanic and French traditions. They love wine and beer.
No need to mention that Belgian beers have international reputation.
Who controls InBev's (now includes Budweiser) - the Belgians.
Go to any restaurant in Belgium, you will see wine served for dinner, about everywhere.
Even their McDonald's sell beer as favorite beverage coming with hamburgers.
xxx
I recall (age 9 or 10...?) on school field trips, being served a Stella Artois lager.
Was normal when I was a kid... Yes, you read well... elementary school field trips.
My grand parents served me a glass of red wine for dinner, at age 10 or 12.
xxx
When I went to the USA as exchange student, I hated to have to drink Coca-Cola with dinner.
And a glass of milk with a steak dinner... told myself "they are crazy in USA".
I love milk, but certainly not as a dinner drink. Fine for breakfast if you ask.
xxx
Then I flew with PanAm from 1969 to 1991. I hope I never busted the rules.
Had a steak dinner at night, a glass of wine, go to bed and have a flight next day.
Never got a problem. Never was drunk on the job. Never used drugs.
Do not worry. Arriving at hotels, I never failed having 1 or 2 beers with the crew.
I recall crewmembers doing 3 or 4 vodkas or whiskies the night before a morning flight.
Never liked liquors anyway... so my glass of wine for dinner was somewhat tame.
xxx
I recall my friends flying for Sabena, Air France or UTA/Air Afrique.
These guys had a glass of wine while flying with dinner.
I know they stopped that in the 1980s... But... was legal, not exceeding a certain amount.
xxx
So, where do we stand now.
I am certain a pilot drinking 1 beer with a burger at 20:00, going to sleep, flying at 07:00 is NOT DRUNK.
Is it the case of that UAL first officer...?
xxx
Throw a stone at me for my opinions.
Some of you know that my wife died in a car accident in 2005... age 35.
And... sadly, she was drunk. I love her but hate her for having done that to me.
So, do not think I will ever condone drinking and driving/flying.
xxx

Sad contrails.
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Old 23rd Oct 2008, 19:10
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Breathalyzer

Breath tests should not be accepted as the final answer for any kind of alcohol test due to the inability to distinguish between alcohol and other harmless metabolites such as acetone which can be found at an elevated level due to eating a high protein diet or a medical condition.
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Old 24th Oct 2008, 00:08
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I wonder what would have happened after a N/S in the Bristol BEY or the Pan Afric in NBO?
Precisely !! Don't know what all the fuss is about, never had any trouble !

( hat,coat,door, g'night )
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