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Sun, Oct 26, 2003

Etes-Vous Stupide?

Air France Pilot Talks Trash To Screeners, Grounds Flight

Even Jerry Lewis, France's favorite American comedian, would have flinched at this one. For the second time in three months, an Air France crew member's mouth landed him in hot water at Kennedy Airport.

The latest incident happened Friday night as Flight 23 was about to depart JFK for Paris. The unnamed captain was already on board the flight when he got word that his bag had set off an alarm as it was passed through security. The captain got off the flight, went to the security checkpoint and opened his big mouth.

"During the course of their inspection, the pilot made several comments which included references to the airplane blowing up, him blowing up and the story ending up on the front page of the New York Times," said TSA spokeswoman Amy von Walter. "Our screeners followed standard operating procedure and notified Port Authority police."

The flight was cancelled. The pilot was detained. But for some reason, after the New York/New Jersey Port Authority checked with the District Attorney's office in Queens, no charges were filed.

Back on August 8th, Air France copilot Phillipe Riviere was going through security when, for some unknown reason, he mouthed off to screeners that he had explosives in his shoes. They locked him up. He's due in court Monday, where he faces up to seven years in the slammer if convicted on charges of filing a false report.

In Friday's episode, the pilot spent the night in a Manhattan hotel and was to return Saturday as an Air France passenger. He may be out of the woods as far as the Queens DA is concerned, but he could still be disciplined by the airline.

Most of the 270 or so passengers and crew were flown out on other airlines Friday night. The rest made it to Paris on Saturday. All because of some flip remark.

In statement released last night, the airline acknowledged an "exchange at the airport between a crew member and TSA.

"From the beginning, Air France's primary concern was our passengers," the statement said. "All of them . . . were assisted in getting to their final destination. The inquiry has been completed with the full cooperation of Air France and its personnel."

Maybe, as the New York Post suggests, they should call Air France... Air Farce.

FMI: www.airfrance.com

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