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Pilot who turned up drunk to fly United Airlines Glasgow to Newark jailed

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Pilot who turned up drunk to fly United Airlines Glasgow to Newark jailed

Old 16th Nov 2021, 17:24
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Pilot who turned up drunk to fly United Airlines Glasgow to Newark jailed

Received a 10 month sentence, it appears Gulliver won’t be travelling for a while, see link


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Old 17th Nov 2021, 02:19
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Slight thread creep but a curious and interesting article here on possible breath test false-positives when “fasting”……now a popular weight loss and control practice.


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Old 17th Nov 2021, 03:45
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Happens all the time. United pilots need a crew lounge for the Paisley Sheriff Court.


From the BBC:

Pilots arrested at Glasgow Airport before boarding US flight

Published 3 August 2019

The men, aged 45 and 61, have not been charged but remain in custody and are expected to appear before Paisley Sheriff Court on Tuesday.Police Scotland confirmed officers were called to the airport at 07:35 BST.

The men were arrested before boarding flight UA162.

It was expected to take off for Newark at about 09:00 but was cancelled.

United Airlines said in a statement the safety of its customers and crew was "always our top priority".Pilots jailed It said: "We hold all of our employees to the highest standards and have a strict, no tolerance policy for alcohol.

"These pilots were immediately removed from service and we are fully cooperating with local authorities.

"At this time, we are working to get our customers back on their journey as soon as possible."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed two men, aged 61 and 45, have been arrested and remain in police custody pending a scheduled court appearance on Tuesday 6 August for alleged offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.

The legislation covers carrying out pilot duties while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The limit for alcohol detected in the breath for pilots is less than half the limit for drivers in Scotland.


Pilot Paul Grebenc jailed for drinking before flight

Published 23 March 2017

A pilot has been jailed after he admitted boarding a flight he was due to help fly while more than double the drink-fly alcohol limit.

First Officer Paul Grebenc, 35, was taken off a United Airlines plane at Glasgow Airport on 27 August 2016.

The police were contacted after Grebenc's co-pilot, Carlos Roberto Licona, went through security and staff smelled alcohol on his breath.

Grebenc, from Humble in Texas, was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Licona was jailed for 15 months on 10 March after he also admitted attempting to board the flight while drunk.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard that on the morning of 27 August, Grebenc and his United Airlines colleagues were brought to Glasgow Airport from the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, where they had spent the night, having flown from the US to Scotland the previous day.

They were due to fly a Boeing 757 to Newark, New Jersey, with take-off scheduled for 09:00.

As they passed through the staff search area, security staff smelled alcohol on the breath of the other First Officer, Carlos Licona, and raised the alarm.

Removed from planePolice were contacted and went to the departure gate, where Licona and Grebenc - who was also a US Air Force reservist - were removed from the flight.

Fiscal Depute Scot Dignan said: "Police did not go on board the aircraft as they wanted to be discreet and not alarm passengers.

"Grebenc was asked to disembark with Licona as police also had suspicions regarding him.

"He was taken to a quieter spot. At about 09:30 he was asked to provide a specimen of breath for analysis which proved positive and he was taken in a marked police vehicle to Govan police station."

Grebenc's sample revealed he had 42 milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood - more than double the 20 milligrams limit for flying.

The flight, carrying 141 passengers, was delayed for nine hours.

Sentencing Grebenc, Sheriff David Pender said: "I realise you have had several major difficulties in your personal life and this has had an impact on your consumption of alcohol.

"While you have not been a commercial pilot for very long, you have vast skill as a US Air Force pilot and you must be aware of the dangers of flying under the influence of alcohol.

"You also deliberately flouted your employer's guidelines and ignored what they regard as a safe eight-hour gap between drinking alcohol and being on duty."Pilot's licence Grebenc admitted performing "an activity ancillary to an aviation function" at stand 28 at Glasgow Airport.

David McKie, defending Grebenc, said: "He takes full responsibility for his actions."

Grebenc's wife is also a pilot with the US Air Force and the couple, who live on an air base in Mississippi, have two children aged two and four.

Mr McKie told the court that the case would have "catastrophic consequences" for his client and could see him being dishonourably discharged from the US Air Force and losing his pilot's licence.

A United Airlines spokesman said: "We hold all of our employees to the highest standards. This pilot was immediately removed from service and his flying duties in August 2016."
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Old 17th Nov 2021, 15:51
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People have misfired by claiming they "smelled alcohol on a person's breath" when it was ketones from a fat-and-protein intensive diet, back when that was very fashionable ("South Beach Diet"). Accurate testing showed no alcohol in the person's breath or blood. I recall one such incident involved a pilot.

In this case, with a Police alcohol meter showing them far over the limit, eyewitness evidence they had been drinking within the legal time limit for flying, and an admission of guilt, I think we're quite far from conviction based on a cheap-o car breathalyser interlock. On the other hand, clearly a pilot should not suffer adverse consequences only on the basis of a simple device such as those on a car which lack good control of their maintenance, calibration, usage circumstances, etc.
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Old 17th Nov 2021, 16:20
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I wonder what sentence he would have been given if he were flying over the limit in the US...
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Old 17th Nov 2021, 17:10
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Pilots are going to show up drunk for a flight, it's an unfortunate fact of life in the flying business. In my observation many of these incidents never make the news and some are handled administratively through an Employee Assistance Program.

A few of the many earlier PPRuNe discussions here:

American Airlines pilot arrested

Drunk pilot arrested at Schiphol. Delta?

Over the legal limit again - PPRuNe Forums


Sun Article - US Pilot Arrested for being over alcohol limit - Page 2 - PPRuNe Forums


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Old 18th Nov 2021, 17:27
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Why the delay of over two years, between the offence and sentencing?
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Old 18th Nov 2021, 17:42
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The wheels of justice turn slowly.
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Old 18th Nov 2021, 17:46
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Probably the Covid19 pandemic. It has delayed hundreds, if not thousands of cases through the Courts.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 05:04
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Unpopular opinion here-

Clearly, showing uop drunk to fly is an enormous infraction and deserves punishment both legal and pofesstional-BUT.....

While we know for a fact that drink-driving has led to countless deaths, we can't point to the same for flying. Why is it automatically a worse crime to show up over the limit to fly, then it is to drink and drive?
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 05:39
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Because flying an airliner is done professionally and driving a car is not.
similarly, you shouldn’t show up drunk in the control room of a nuclear power plant either. Or at the operating table in a hospital.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 06:53
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Because we need Pilots to be at 110% when the brown stuff hits the fan.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 08:02
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From a policy point of view: More people theoretically involved and can be harmed, both on board and on the ground. Much higher energies involved which increases the damage caused.

And of course the conclusion that we cannot point to massive numbers of deaths due to drinking in aviation, has to do with both a quite heavy policing of alcohol use in aviation, and very low accident numbers in general. However, there are some cases where alcohol use was at least mentioned as one possible part of the problem, like for example in the case of Aeroflot 821.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 08:38
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Lower alcohol limits are not unique to aviation. They are quite rightly applied to most areas of public transport. For instance in the UK the limit for a train driver is 13mcg against 35mcg for a car driver.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 09:15
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I think it is important that pilots, like other professionals, take their role seriously enough not to turn up drunk to work.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 09:30
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I think you've put your finger on it.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 10:04
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In Scotland the limit for car driving is 22mcg
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 17:33
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Let me ask you this Wiz...
Would you board an aircraft and fly if you knew for a fact that the pilots were legally intoxicated?

Because I sure as hell wouldn't...

Oh, and as others have noted, there have been fatal crashes where a pilot that was drunk or under the influence of other drugs was - at the very least - a contributing factor to the accident.
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 18:38
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I just wish the same amount of effort went into preventing tiredness and fatigue, which are the real killers. More insidious than alcohol and probably more deadly.

When I joined the industry, I was amazed at the drinking culture that prevailed; now that appears to be history, apart from the odd rare individual with problems. It used to be normal to have landing drinks, then more on the crew transport, then a quick one at the bar before heading out! These days, it’s not unusual to meet in the gym and go for a protein shake after...
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Old 19th Nov 2021, 21:17
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You can check for intoxication and get a number. Tiredness and fatigue are akin to hypoxia as they are difficult to self-diagnose, let alone check for. How do you define “unfit to operate”? What level of tiredness is that? How do you measure it? Any sort of flying produces some level of exhaustion, minor or otherwise. Does this make night flights impossible?

Commercial pressure and regulatory capture have made a farce of FTLs in EASA land. I wouldn’t sit next to someone whose blood alcohol level was impairing their performance but I do it all the time with people who are tired. It’s the nature of the job...
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