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Wed, Apr 29, 2009

Another Pilot Tossed Off Flight For Suspicions Of Alcohol Use

Yet Another Story This Industry Does NOT Need

ANN regrets to report that facts are emerging in which yet another pilot has been pulled from a duty flight, for the aroma of alcohol that accompanied him. An Air Canada pilot, said to be boarding to serve as a "backup" pilot for a B777 flight from London, England, to Calgary, Alberta was confronted by security after a Heathrow guard claimed to have smelled alcohol emanating from the pilot.

British Police stated that they, "attended an aircraft at Heathrow Airport and arrested a 45-year-old man... He was arrested on suspicion of being aviation staff performing an aviation function while exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit."

The flight, Air Canada Flight 851, took place on April 16th. The pilot was administered a breathalyzer test, released on bail, and ordered to return to the Heathrow PD on June 12th.

Air Canada hasn't said much but has confirmed that the story, which made the rounds of all the Brit tabloids. Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for the airline said that the police "reported that they thought they detected an odor of alcohol on the pilot as he was passing through airport security."

Fitzpatrick also clarified that the pilot, unnamed in all the legal hub-bub by the Police or Air Canada, was "a backup pilot, referred to as the relief or augmentation pilot. He wasn't scheduled to fly, he wasn't going to be operating the aircraft — I think that's an important point to note."

The action resulted in a fairly small delay, about 20 minutes, for the flight which carried a reported load of 300 passengers.

Air Canada states that despite the "backup" role, the pilot would have been required to cease all alcoholic consumption at least 12 hours before the flight. "The Transport Canada rule is eight hours, but we have that additional buffer for safety reasons. The bottom line is that pilots are not supposed to have a drink for 12 hours before they operate an aircraft."

The 45 year old pilot has been suspended pending further investigation.




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