Pilot Fails Alcohol Test: Were Passengers In Danger On The American Eagle Flight?

By IScience Times Staff Reporter on January 4, 2013 5:16 PM EST

Plane
After a pilot and two passengers were arrested this week for excessive drinking observers are questioning once again whether there needs to be stricter regulation. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

An American Eagle pilot was arrested for a high level of alcohol in his system on Friday, the same week that two women were brought in by police for getting drunk on a British Airways flight going from London's Gatwick Airport to Tunis.

The pilot was about to fly a plane going from Minneapolis-St. Paul to New York City when he failed to pass a blood-alcohol breath test. Even more alarmingly, the pilot was already on the plane, conducting pre-flight checks, when officers got a tip that he had one or more drinks before boarding the aircraft. 

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"There was a witness who smelled what they thought was alcohol on the pilot's breath and notified police," Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

After failing the breathalyzer test, the pilot was transported to Fairview Southdale Hospital to have a blood sample taken. Later he was taken into custody.

Though the legal alcohol limit for flying a plane - .04 percent - is lower than the legal limit for driving - .08 percent - many observers have questioned whether the limit should be even lower. Around 12 commercial pilots violate FAA standards each year, according to agency data.

Federal rules state that pilots can't fly within eight hours of drinking alcohol. Pilots are also required to go through drug and alcohol tests when they apply for a job. And some are subject to random testing.

The terrifying news comes on the heels of reports this week that two drunk women forced a landing on British Airways flight after trying to storm the cockpit and smoke in the lavatory.

"[The drunk women] decided they were going to meet the captain and marched towards the cockpit," a passenger told The Sun newspaper. "It was very frightening."

British Airways said crew members decided to land in Lyon when the women would not calm down. Assessing the situation as dangerous and disruptive to passengers, the crew rerouted the flight and made an emergency landing.

"Our customers and flying crew deserve a safe and enjoyable flight experience," British Airways said in a statement. "We do not tolerate any disruptive behavior on-board our flights. They were handed over to the custody of the French police and detained upon arrival in Lyon."

The women, who are 43 and 50, allegedly starting cursing at children and refused to return to their seats after being asked a number of times by crew members. Another passenger said the two women threatened to track down and kill the family of one of the stewardesses.

When the plane landed, French policemen boarded the plane and arrested the two women. The women, who have not yet been identified by authorities, are subject to steep fines or jail time. Either way, a hangover will be the least of their worries.

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