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Could your pilot be drunk? Or just press fabrication?

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Could your pilot be drunk? Or just press fabrication?

Old 1st Feb 2003, 03:58
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Are UK pilots boozing that bad or is it press buzzing?

The Daily Telegraph has received a disturbing report of alcohol abuse by commercial airline pilots in Britain.

The report followed an incident last month in which a British Airways pilot at Arlanda airport near Stockholm was held by Swedish police and breathalysed as he prepared to fly to London.

Airport staff called police after they allegedly saw him swaying as he walked to where his Airbus A-320 plane was waiting. British Airways said it had not yet received the test results but if the pilot was found to have been drunk he would face dismissal.

This week a taxi driver who regularly takes pilots and crew to Stansted airport in Essex contacted The Daily Telegraph to say he is "always picking up airline crew and pilots from bars and taking them straight to work".

"You can smell the alcohol on them and sometimes they have trouble getting out of the car," he said. "Once a pilot fell down some stairs he was so drunk."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was "very concerned" at the report.

"The onus is on pilots and crew to present themselves fit for work. People should come to us and report any problems," he said.

There are 10,000 commercial pilots in the UK, of which 12 to 15 a year lose their licence because of alcohol abuse, according to the CAA. Under British law, airline crew should "not be under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent to impair capacity".

Most major airlines, including BA, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Air France, stipulate that pilots should not drink alcohol for eight hours before starting work. There is, however, no legally specified limit.

That will change with the passage of the Railways and Transport Safety Bill, which is due to become law later this year.

Under the new law, pilots will only be allowed to have up to 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood: a quarter of the 80mg limit for road-users.

As with drivers, the law will allow for breathalysing where there "are grounds for reasonable suspicion" but not for random testing. The law will also apply to cabin crew and air traffic controllers.

A spokeswoman for the CAA, which has long campaigned for a change in the law, said that the new bill represented a significant improvement.

But the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) said the new law could go even further. "Random testing would be a sensible precaution," said Simon Evans, the council's chief executive.

Those in favour of an even tougher law are also concerned by the fact that a pilot who has lost his driving licence as a result of drink-driving will still be entitled to fly a plane.

The pilots' union, BALPA, said the incidence of pilots flying while drunk was "very rare". The union welcomed the new law but said it was opposed to the idea of random testing for alcohol.

If you have information on pilots drinking heavily before flying, contact the Civil Aviation Authority on 01293 567171, write to us at The Daily Telegraph Travel Desk, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DT, or email [email protected].
Report filed: 01/02/2003

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Old 1st Feb 2003, 06:36
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Trust me British Pilots are always drunk.

They are in the Bar at Heathrow, drunk as skunks on turnaround. It is a Gin and Tonic for Breakfast. ON THE FLIGHT DECK. It is all true.

On night stops, well... just party party. And the cabin crew are so difficult to get out of your bed. They are always begging me to sleep with them. I say "after I finish the bottle of whiskey darling". Last week I drank ten pints of beer before pickup, slept with all the girls, and boys! on the crew, then crawled my way to the aircraft. No problem.

You must believe the press, they never lie or distort.

Your post disgusts me just like the article disgusts me.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 07:18
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I understand that the well known journal 'Private Eye' has a forum specifically for taxi drivers ( page 18 in the current issue). Is the torygraph perhaps trying to set up a rival forum? Alternatively, I seem to remember that BALPA set up an award some years ago for fatuous drivel. Does anyone know what were the criteria?
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 07:48
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A cautionary tale

I remember a rather difficult situation a few weeks ago when one of our pilots turned up for an 04:45 IBZ completely sober!!

As Cabin Crew we were uncertain where we stood on this. Actually, as Cabin Crew we were uncertain how to stand at all following a long night in the hotel bar.

We said nothing however, and kept our concerns to ourselves. After landing, the Pilot's hair had turned completely white and he was shaking. Apparently he had never landed sober before, and the experience had proved traumatic - he resigned shorly after.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 11:41
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I know of one pilot who gets so scared at the prospect of flying that he needs a swifty before turning up at the airport. I know this to be the case with many of the crews that I fly with as well. In fact sometimes the whole crew is so p**sed by the end of the day that we just can't wait to leap into bed with each other. I have heard of many instances where this has happened at different airlines, including a well known ,large British based airline. It has been known, I have it on good authority from someone ,I know who works in a hotel, that once a crew turned up at reception smelling of alcohol and immediately went to bed, falling over each other as they went down the corridor.

The good thing about working for a newspaper is that you can write whatever you please. No-one is going to stop you and you don't even have to name your sources. You wield a lot of power because ignorant people (the mob) believe what they read. This is a very good way to create hysteria, in much the same way as you can create hysteria about child abuse, the spread of disease or defective beef. Many people are frightened enough of flying without the belief that their pilot might be drunk. I know you've got to make copy and it's your livelyhood but please try to calm it down a bit.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 11:49
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As a foreigner, I Take it then, from the posts above that the Telegraph has not won many awards for journalistic excellence?
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 12:00
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Thumbs down

Ah yes... the press!

Obviously a fortune has been invested by the Telegraph Travel Section into an undercover, investigative report by a team of crack (addicted?) journalists based on hard evidence into this topic. Shame on the tabloid editors who didn't pick up on it first!

So, here we have an un-named taxi driver who claims he is "always picking up drunk pilots and taking them to work". If he was so concerned why didn't he reported these pilots to the appropriate authorities? Probably because the journalist (this term is used so loosely that 'lying, no-hoper' would probably be more accurate) who invented this cabbie, and his/her editor were desparate for anything in order to fabricate some 'news'.

Just look at the facts as presented: 12-15 professional pilots a year out of over 10,000 lose their licence because of alcohol abuse according ot the CAA. That works out to 0.15%. Just to clarify for the mentally challenged journalists amongst us... that is nought point one five of one percent nationally. Therefore, this unnamed 'cabbie' (more likely figment of the journalists drink and drug abused mind) who is "always picking up airline crew and pilots from bars and taking them straight to work" just happens to beat odds that would make a lottery winner seem unlucky. Assuming that that by 'always' he means once a week (and that's being generous) that one of the crews he picks up is from a bar and inebriated enought to be noticable, that means... errr... you work out the odds, I'm too drunk and I've got to go to work in five minutes.

How a rag like the Telegraph could let an article such as this be published without checking facts or maintaining standards of accuracy as laid down by their news depratment is surprising... or is it? As has often been stated here on PPRuNe, most of the media never let the truth get in the way of a good story. A pity that some of their more talented and honest journalists are tainted by association.

If you have information on journalists twisiting facts and making up stories before publishing, contact the Press Complaints Commission on 020 7353 3732 or write to The Daily Telegraph Travel Desk, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DT, or email [email protected] and point out how utterly barmy and pathetic they are!
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 12:57
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I wouldn't be surprised if this story was hatched in a traffic jam on the M11 on Thursday night/Friday morning.

Picture the scene: poor old hack hails cabs from STN to go home to somewhere like Cambridge. Heavy snowfall blocks road and cab is caught in a mega 20 mile jam. After 14 hours of hearing the cabbie wittering on about famous stars he has had in the back of his cab the hack notices the meter has gone past £250.

"Oy", says the journo to the cabbie, "Have you got any good stories I can write about to make a few bob to offset the cost"?
"Well", says the cabbie, "I once took some pilots home after a party on their week off and they had had more than two shandies."

"Great, shock, horror" says the hack, his creative mind whirring. And the rest is....the basis for the nonsense we are reading today.

Surely if a normally accurate paper like the Telegraph had plenty of good evidence from the cabbie such as dates and times, names of aircrew, offices they were dropped at etc, they would have the basis for a sensible investigation and that wrongdoers would be rightfully exposed.

But it would appear that the cabbie has not even bothered to report his claims to the authorities at STN...I've certainly not heard of 'loads of pilots' being sacked for boozing.

Nice comments from Capt PPRuNe, but what exactly is a news depratment? Shome mishtake shurely?
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 13:05
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"talented and honest journalists"....... does this statement represent 0.15% of journalists Danny?
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 13:14
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Cab driver and drunk pilots

I think he might have been the same cab driver who said to me the following: "actually if you stop with your car by the runway and you look at all these planes on the landing queue, you can see they slightly move left and right. That is because the pilot is so drunk he can't even keep the plane straight.".
In fact, as you can see, British pilots are crashing their jets each day all around the world, and BA, Virgin, etc (UK) have one of the worst safety record in the industry because of this alcohol problem.
Don't forget a missed approach is more catastrophic than the 11th of Sep!!! And each go around is caused by alcohol as pilots cannot judge distances under those effects!!!

From a disgusted foreigner.
Anyway journalists are all the same, not much difference in Europe: they just invent the "News"all the time just to increase sales. This is what they are paid for.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 13:23
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This is all so tame. You people are juniors! I get soooo drunk on turnarounds, I've even been known to sleep with myself! Dare I say it, I even slept with my ex-wife on a few occasions, but I had to be really drunk as a skunk, to do that! Then I went for a CAA medical, and I even slept with the examiner (after getting him drunk too). Next time I get drunk (just before going on duty, and in uniform), I may even drive (even whilst drunk- that shows how drunk I will be!) past the Telegraph orifice where all those amazing investigative journalists live, and show my ample pimpled bottom out of the drivers window! And bark out of the window at the amazing Telegraph investigative journalists all with their noses pressed up against the panes! And then I go and fly celebrities like Tony Blair and ordinary people- see- I just don't care!
Well done Telegraph- can you go on losing readers like this for life? You see- I can make sure your now filthy rag is removed from all my aeroplanes (and I don't have to be drunk to do that!) as well as never spending any of my hard earned wonga left over after drinking all that hooch, on your filthy rag for the rest of my alcohol hazed life!

And I shall wait until this thread has run its course and send you all the comments in print.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 13:32
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They are definitely drunk! It is true.

Even when I am a passenger on a British carrier, anytime the pilot makes an announcement his voice is clearly the voice of a completely drunk person and all other passengers can witness this!! So many people decide to jump out of the windows.
When I have to leave the aircraft from the front door and the Captain is there to say "Good bye": clearly totally drunk.
Not always but most of the time.
Last time the Captain told me: where the hell have we landed?
I thanked God I had landed safely.
The cockpit smelled of alcohol too.

I am disgusted by this way of piloting aircrafts.
I will never fly again with a British carrier.

This is great journalism.
Please could you add to your article that I have seen an elephant flying.Thanks a lot.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 16:30
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Speaking of cabbies...... it reminds me that the next time one of these honest servants of the public drives me from MAN to LGW during the wee small hours, and I have to intervene to grab the steering wheel when he falls asleep at it ( which happened to me twice last summer ), I’ll exhibit no remorse when I shop him to the police as being unfit to drive through fatigue – albeit purely my own assessment of his condition; Now I wonder if I can sell that to a newspaper, possibly with a headline of “Killer cabbie tries to wipe out aircrew !” ?

and look what I came up with on the AXA PPP Healthcare site – a site constructed by medical professionals no less:
People at higher risk of becoming alcoholic are certain professions such as publicans, seamen, journalists and doctors.
Need I say more !

So, maybe the author of the article, Paul Miles, is nothing more than a pathetic whisky sodden hack, driven to the bottle by the mundanity of his sad little life which finds him wishing for journalistic glory, and yet all he can actually manage is to invent stories where stories aren’t.
I suppose that, in spite of the harm that such journalistic diarrhoea does to both our industry and our good name, he’s to be pitied - either that or his editor should give him a good kick up the a_rse and sends him off to cover some real news, hopefully somewhere dangerous where he can do less damage.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 18:35
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Is it any wonder that pilots are turning to the bottle. Lets look at the kind off problems they have had to endure over the last couple of years. And lets not forget that it is well known that people turn to the bottle for stress relief (mines a Jack Daniels please).

1 inch of snow and a major international airport closes for two days.

One morning of high winds at EGLL last November and it was carnage, baggage carts reported to be blowing done the "V" culdesac etc, not enough parking stands. I have been witness to the carnage activating 23 when crosswind was to high for 27 at Heathrow, 40 minutes waiting to cross 27L to get a stand and we were the lucky ones.

Mad legislation whereby you cant put your son on the jumpseat because he may represent a security risk, but a CAA ops inspector who you dont know from Adam, no problem.

General risk of mad terrorist trying to blow you out of the sky, either from within the cabin or from the top of airport car park with a shoulder launched SAM.

Minor glitch in ATC computer - chaos ensues all days. First lesson in systems redundancy I learnt in the Navy as a Fighter Controller is when the computer ****s the bed, get out your chinagraph, dot your aircraft start writing things down and get on with it.

Longer working hours, erosion of T & C's, take overs, lay offs, increased cost of training

So its no wonder that everynow and then some poor pilot gets caught with a blood alchohol level equivalent to half a point of larger shandy drunk 12 hours ago.

No doubt when its proved the incident in Stockholm was caused by faulty breatheliser or mouth wash it will warent about 3 lines in the back pages of the tabliods.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 18:55
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I get the 'Times' on weekdays, but thought that the 'Weekend Telegraph' was better than the 'Times' on a Saturday. As far as I am concerned, the 'Telegraph' is now history and I shall be writing to tell them as much.

How dare they print such unsubstantiated rubbish!

Cheers to us all,
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 19:50
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Your post disgusts me just like the article disgusts me.
Do you enjoy killing the messenger?
Relax, friend.
You might want to substitute "British" pilots and "Britain" for the US. (Would've been a better comeback).

On this side of the pond the reports and jurnos are'nt any better. Or, you're missing those?

Last edited by jet_noseover; 1st Feb 2003 at 20:05.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 04:15
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The attempts on Pprune to provoke/bait or sucker in pilots are so transparent, and these probes are not necessarily begun by members of the press.

Maybe, if I had just flown over there between marriages, borrowed a British airline pilot uniform, and gotten merry with some lovely British FA's! I would have paid for the rounds of local lager, even the (dark) Corsendonk from Belgium.

'Trim' might have been much more available for some of us.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 05:51
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You are not my friend.

That you should even ask the question means you cannot be a professional pilot. That you should even post that garbage means you thought there might be some truth in it. I would remind you that, you asked, "Could your pilot be drunk, or just Press fabrication".

I would also point out that the thread title has been toned down from your even more puerile first attempt.

So yes your post still disgusts me, just like the article.

Have a nice day.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 06:30
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What's your problem, dude?
I only copied and pasted a typical "gem" from the UK paper/rag. Write to them if you do not like it and get a life.

I did not ask any questions. Merely rhetorical sentence and it was a title to the press write-up. Not mine.
I thought the article was ridiculous and plain out stupid. Go attack someone else, you'll not get much from this end anymore, junior.

Btw, the mods changed my original heading to this thread anyway.
So take it up with them.

You have a wonderful day too.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 08:38
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I thought the article was ridiculous and plain out stupid
...and exactly where in your original post did you say this?

I have a life, you go play Microsoft Flight Sim.
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