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Tue, Oct 25, 2005

United Pilot Pulled Out Of Cockpit For Smelling Of Alcohol

Paging Mr. Leno...  

Police removed a United Airlines pilot from the cockpit Sunday morning flight after TSA screeners at Miami International Airport told police they had smelled alcohol as he passed through security.

The flight, originally scheduled to leave for Washington D.C. at 9 am Sunday morning, was delayed almost seven hours while a replacement crew was brought in -- all at a time while planes were filled with people attempting to outrun Hurricane Wilma.

The officer who detained the pilot "noticed what appeared to be an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the pilot and requested that he exit the aircraft," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Del Castillo.

United suspended the pilot pending a company investigation following the incident, according to the Associated Press, although he was not arrested and no breath test was performed. The FAA is also looking into the matter.

"United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have absolutely no tolerance for abuse or violation of this well-established policy," said United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

Sadly, this isn't the first time a pilot suspected of having a few too many has been taken out of the cockpit in Miami. Three years ago -- in a story that received national attention and became the topic of many-a-joke on late night television (and was also extensively reported in Aero-News) -- two America West pilots were arrested after screeners also noticed alcohol on their breath.

Unlike the incident involving the United pilot, the two America West pilots had actually left the gate, and were taxiing their jet for takeoff when authorities turned them around. Both pilots were fired, and are now serving time for the incident.

FMI: www.united.com, www.tsa.gov



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