Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Rumours & News
Reload this Page >

LHR Inebriated DL Pilot Sentenced to Six Months

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.

LHR Inebriated DL Pilot Sentenced to Six Months

Old 6th Feb 2011, 08:38
  #101 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: en route
Posts: 220
"Compared to..."

Maat

It's the "compared to" in your post that's the issue. It's not either/or, is it? A compelling reason for having a drink during a duty cycle is to help get to sleep in a noisy hotel, at the wrong time of day, when there's only 8 1/2 hours to get 8 hours of sleep, on the wrong time zone....

If it was a simple choice - pilot over the alcohol limit, or pilot who's not had enough rest - it would be easier to make a judgement. But it's not - the true problem is "pilot who's not had enough rest, and has had a couple of drinks to try to alleviate that."

R
rcsa is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 08:54
  #102 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
Maat, I understand your point but we're talking about risk reduction. Of course pilots shouldn't be tired/jet lagged when they are flying, I fly to Oz and know it takes me three days to become anything more than a zombie after arriving there, so how pilots cope is beyond me. However I think we would be living in na na land if we thought we had a perfect world and it didn't happen, but that's for the regulatory bodies and pilot's unions to sort out (and sort it out they should IMO). I have every sympathy for pilots who have to work under draconian regimes that don't allow them any meaningful rest and I think that any company that forces inefficient timetabling of their pilots should be in court and the directors jailed.

Flying whilst under the influence however is entirely avoidable, it is the personal choice of the pilot. I fully understand that it may not be a personal choice to be an alcoholic but it is a personal choice to continue to fly knowing full well you have a problem. Pilots are well payed, rightly so, they are highly trained professionals, but with that comes a duty to your passengers.

Edit: rcsa, just read your post. I think there's a difference between having a couple of sherberts to relax yourself before 8 hours kip and getting totally trashed to get to sleep. No one should have to do that in an attempt to be compos mentis to do their job the next day and as I said operators should be held to account.

Looking at an earlier post I think there maybe some degree of 'can do' in the make up of a pilot, of not wanting to appear to be failing the company, of not wanting to be seen as less able to hack it than fellow pilots. I'm not a psychologist, I don't know the answer to that. I do know however that your primary and absolutely over riding duty is to see that the 300 or so souls in your charge are transported as safely as possible to their destination, and part of that duty is to reduce risk. Some risks it would appear are forced upon you, others aren't.

Last edited by thing; 6th Feb 2011 at 09:57.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 09:58
  #103 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: en route
Posts: 220
Sherbert for Herbert

Edit: rcsa, just read your post. I think there's a difference between having a couple of sherberts to relax yourself before 8 hours kip and getting totally trashed to get to sleep. No one should have to do that in an attempt to be compos mentis to do their job the next day and as I said operators should be held to account.
Completely agree with you there - but I don't think we're talking about a pilot turning up totally trashed. We're talking about him being over the blood/alcohol limit. On most people's metabolism, a couple of glasses of wine and a scotch will still show up as "over the limit" eight or nine hours later. That's much more in the "couple of sherberts" league than the "totally trashed" league.

Looking at an earlier post I think there maybe some degree of 'can do' in the make up of a pilot, of not wanting to appear to be failing the company, of not wanting to be seen as less able to hack it than fellow pilots.
I guess it takes an alpha personality type to (a) want to do the job (b) be good at it and (c) thrive in that environment. There are a few other occupations where that is a necessary trait. But in fact it's not a critical characteristic in flying. Perhaps in a crisis it's a useful trait (though even that's doubtful - the critical skill in a crisis is the ability to stay calm).

But I suspect that the alpha culture is a hangover from the "good old days" when civilian airliner pilots were all ex-military - and of course, there's no place for risk-averse pilots in military flying in wartime.

Tom Wolfe makes an interesting point in his book "The Right Stuff" that the uber-calm, growly, tech-speak pax announcement made on every sector by every pilot in the world is directly descended from the way that US military pilots were encouraged to speak to tower - and other aircraft - in WWII; and that this was how Chuck Yeager spoke during his early flights to the sound barrier, and subesquently to the edge of space. That's alpha flying!

I've noted elsewhere on PPRuNe that I believe one of the elements in the risk matrix that makes former Soviet aircraft so inclined to crash is that their aircrew are suffused with the "can-do, ignore the problems, fly on the red-line (especially with a little vodka lubrication)" attitude of the Sov and Sov-successor militaries.
rcsa is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 11:58
  #104 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
I don't think a couple of scotches and a glass of wine would put you over the limit 8 hours later. I'm thinking about the UK driving limit here, I don't know if there's a different limit for pilots.

None of us are saints, I'm sure we've all driven when we shouldn't have, even if we're not over the limit, but it's a different kettle of fish when you talk about being a pro pilot doing a sometimes demanding job that requires a cool head. I know that drunk drivers kill people, but most drivers are amateurs in the technical sense of the word and they don't kill 300 people at a time.

Your point about most airline pilots being ex military after the war which means they would have been flying into the late 1970's early 80's raises an interesting point They were the people who influenced today's senior captains so I wonder if that attitude hasn't been 'bred out' of the system yet? A friend of mine is a senior captain for a major carrier and he says that most ex mil pilots who start flying for his airline are a pita. Not all of them but some have definitely been there, seen it and done it and have nothing to learn from the likes of him. Bit worrying really.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 12:20
  #105 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Age: 80
Posts: 3,755
thing:

"I don't think a couple of scotches and a glass of wine would put you over the limit 8 hours later".

Then you tell us that you don't know if the limits for a pilot are the same as a car driver. You certainly don't, so I simply can't see how you can make the original statement.

If we make a very basic comparison, you are allowed to drive a vehicle in UK provided that you haven't consumed more than 2 pints of ordinary bitter.

The limit for pilots is the equivalent of 1/2 pint of ordinary bitter.

Would you like to reconsider your original statement?
JW411 is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 12:47
  #106 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
Semantics. I'm talking as a layman here when talking about the alcohol limits for pilots, I didn't know what they were, I do now, thank you for pointing them out to me. I think that most members of the public would automatically think of the limits for driving a vehicle when talking about limits for pilots, it's just association with the words 'alcohol limits'.

I'm not here to knock pilots as I think you have taken umbrage with my understandable lack of knowledge. I have flown many hours as a passenger with nothing but the highest regard for the crews that have flown me from one side of the world to another. As a sport I fly gliders, which is where my interest in other aspects of aviation comes from but I know very little about the world of professional airline pilots, or any type of professional pilot come to think of it, which is surely why forums like these are useful. I as a passenger can voice my concerns when I read threads like this and you as a professional can say 'Well actually it's not like that.' We all learn, can't see anything wrong in that.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 13:24
  #107 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: On the Beach
Posts: 3,335
maat:

Rightly so.

How would you feel if you had to fly in the back of an aircraft that was operated by two pilots, one of whom was over the locally imposd limit for operating an aircraft at the time of report for duty?

Compared to:

How would you feel if you had to fly in the back of an aircraft that was operated by two pilots, both of whom had just had a few hours of broken sleep in an airport motel. During the flight, both pilots took it in turns to sleep, but neither could be relied upon to stay awake?

Which in your opinion (and I'm not been sarcastic, your perception of risk and opinion is valued, to me at least) is the safer operation?
That's a specious analogy.
aterpster is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 13:50
  #108 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 3,182
Originally Posted by rodthesod View Post
Oh yes I've noticed comments about mouthwash - I've never known an alcoholic who hasn't tried to mask the smell of booze with it.'
Hmm - didn't know that, though it doesn't surprise me. What I was actually referring to is that most varieties of mouthwash use alcohol as an ingredient and can trigger a higher breathalyser reading than one might otherwise have - even when completely sober. That's one of the reasons for secondary breathlysers at police stations, as well as blood and urine samples being used for confirmation.

FWIW I'm with Rod, Lyle and Brian on this one. Showing up on duty over the limit should rightly cost him his job, but should not preclude a path back if he wants to get clean.
DozyWannabe is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 15:04
  #109 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Stockbridge, GA 30281
Posts: 37
To Thing et al

There seems to be some inane idea that anyone talking about, or trying to explain, alcoholism is thereby justifying or excusing the behavior that results from it.

That's nonsense and is NOT what understanding alcoholism is about!

Most alcoholics, including myself, understand AND ACCEPT that "When you do what you did - you get what you got!"

Consequences are appropriate...so there's no argument in that regard.

But there IS life after alcoholism...and there IS a road back.

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse
LProuse is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 15:41
  #110 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
And I applaud your bravery in talking about it on a public forum Lyle. I for one am glad that you rebuilt your life and wish you every success for the future.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 16:38
  #111 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 3,182
Originally Posted by LProuse View Post
There seems to be some inane idea that anyone talking about, or trying to explain, alcoholism is thereby justifying or excusing the behavior that results from it.
I don't think anyone on this thread has, Lyle. However it is a convenient straw man that the "Flog 'em and hang 'em" brigade like to use against those who argue there is a way back.

For what it's worth I read your original thread many years ago, and having struggled with substance abuse problems myself in my youth found your story enlightening and inspiring.
DozyWannabe is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 17:45
  #112 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: N5721.2W00216.4
Posts: 52
thing, Sir;

I was thinking about risk reduction too, that is why I asked the question. I wanted to know how an experienced passenger perceives risk, therefore I was interested in your response to my question.

Please could you answer the question, repeated below:

How would you feel if you had to fly in the back of an aircraft that was operated by two pilots, one of whom was over the locally imposd limit for operating an aircraft at the time of report for duty?

Compared to:

How would you feel if you had to fly in the back of an aircraft that was operated by two pilots, both of whom had just had a few hours of broken sleep in an airport motel. During the flight, both pilots took it in turns to sleep, but neither could be relied upon to stay awake?


Which in your opinion (and I'm not been sarcastic, your perception of risk and opinion is valued, to me at least) is the safer operation?
6th Feb 2011 01:13


Thanks

maat
maat is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 17:59
  #113 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
I would go for the first one. If one pilot is over the locally imposed limit and the other isn't then obviously it's got to be safer than two overtired pilots. I take it that this isn't a hypothetical question and this does happen....(runs off to see if ocean liners still go to Oz...)

In an ideal world of course I would like my pilots to be well rested, fed properly and had their every need seen to by young trolly dollys so that they can concentrate on the job in hand and transport my ageing carcass across the seven seas in safety and comfort. (Why does the Bay of Bengal always have a bumpy ride?) But the more this thread goes on, the more I realise that I may have been living a happy, though completely misinformed flying existence.

Last edited by thing; 6th Feb 2011 at 18:19.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 20:35
  #114 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: On the dark side of the moon
Posts: 962
Thing, have you stopped driving or riding in cars? There are far more problems with sleepy or intoxicated drivers than there are with pilots. What say you to trying to put some perspective on life.
J.O. is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 21:13
  #115 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 65
Posts: 3,115
I do have perspective on life, I know that flying is the safest form of transport, that driving is more dangerous and all of the other good stuff, it's about reducing risks for the nth time. I reduce risks as much as possible while driving/gliding. My destiny is to some extent in my own hands. I've never had a flying accident in 20 years of gliding or a driving accident in 38 years of driving/riding motorcycles. That doesn't mean I'm some kind of super pilot/driver but it does mean that I assess risk and take appropriate action. As a passenger and therefore at the whim of someone else's actions I would like them to reduce risk as much as possible as well. Seems reasonable to me.

Anyhow, I'm going to leave it there, one can never put across points very well on an internet forum, there isn't a icon for inflection or wry humour. I just thought it would be good to see a passenger perspective on all of this rather than the microsociety that exists in any profession with it's own customs and language, of which I am guilty of in my line of work as much as anyone else. I shall continue to fly happily as a passenger and I wish you all well and safe landings.

Last edited by thing; 6th Feb 2011 at 21:34.
thing is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2011, 21:49
  #116 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: On the Beach
Posts: 3,335
J.O.

There are far more problems with sleepy or intoxicated drivers than there are with pilots. What say you to trying to put some perspective on life.
Apples to apples: To compare risks the sleepy or drunk driver would have to be driving the car in which I am riding.
aterpster is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2011, 01:41
  #117 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: India
Posts: 91
Continuing with DozyWannabe's mail, Capt Lyle Prouse's story of grit and determination is available as "From Conviction to Conviction - An Eagle Reborn" (Aviation Medicine Consultation :: AvMed - Fly Safe - Guidance, Information TIPS and Help on Aerospace Medicine with Human Factors).
This is with his due consent, as well as encouraging words from Brian and Rob. I hope, besides Lyle's active involvement in helping others, especially pilots, come out of scourge of alcohol, his inspiring story may serve as inspiration to many.
Blue skies...all
AvMed.IN is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2011, 02:15
  #118 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Hong Kong SAR
Age: 78
Posts: 294
Most pilots are paid well enough to be professional already.
So being "professional" is a function of your pay?
If you get paid for a service, you are a professional - regardless of the quantum of the pay.

Being a professional means accepting that you turn up fit for work, and in accordance with the law. It implies adjusting your lifestyle to the demands of your profession.

There seems to be too much tolerance in this thread - almost as if there is a collusion that we all know it goes on, and this poor guy got caught. His sentence is not for his disease - which is quite irrelevant - but for his unprofessional conduct.
CISTRS is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2011, 10:16
  #119 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: On the Beach
Posts: 3,335
CISTRS:

Being a professional means accepting that you turn up fit for work, and in accordance with the law. It implies adjusting your lifestyle to the demands of your profession.

There seems to be too much tolerance in this thread - almost as if there is a collusion that we all know it goes on, and this poor guy got caught. His sentence is not for his disease - which is quite irrelevant - but for his unprofessional conduct
Well stated!
aterpster is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2011, 12:44
  #120 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 3,182
Originally Posted by CISTRS View Post
There seems to be too much tolerance in this thread - almost as if there is a collusion that we all know it goes on, and this poor guy got caught. His sentence is not for his disease - which is quite irrelevant - but for his unprofessional conduct.
Then I suggest you re-read the thread more closely - no-one that I know of has condoned this pilot's conduct, including - importantly - those who have been in a similar situation themselves and managed to recover their lives and careers.

As for "collusion", the fact it that yes, it does go on - to deny it would be to stick one's head in the sand. Denial of such on the part of the industry as a whole would be even more dangerous than the denial of the individual when it comes to admitting they have a problem.

So let's be clear - turning up for work over the proscribed blood alcohol limit is unprofessional and to do so merits severe sanction, as much for the health of the individual concerned as for their colleagues and passengers. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. However, with the correct treatment alcoholism (and many other substance dependencies) can be and are remedied - and if an individual goes on to seek help and recover, then a career "life sentence" is unwarranted. This does not however mean that it is likely to be easy, nor should it be.
DozyWannabe is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.