You Are Now Boozing at 36,000 Feet: Drunk Pilot Booted from NY Flight
Hey pilots, we get it: We know the airplane is doing most of the work. You mostly just have to sit there and push a few buttons. But that's no excuse to be drunk on a flight.
On Wednesday morning in Buffalo, airport police removed pilot James Clifton from a JetBlue flight before takeoff. Sobriety tests indicated his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit.
The Federal Aviation Administration's policy on pilots boozing is pretty stringent. Anyone with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or higher is not supposed to be piloting an aircraft. By comparison, the threshold for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is 0.08 in New York.
As a result of its pilot's irresponsibility, the JetBlue flight Clifton was supposed to helm took off more than four hours late. Which, if you're a frequent air traveler, might be the most infuriating part of all.
In a statement, JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said "the crew member was involved has been removed from his duties."
Unfortunately, this is not the first incident of an airplane pilot being too drunk to fly:
In 2016, co-pilot Sean Michael Fitzgerald had a blood alcohol level of 0.34 and was arrested before takeoff. He spent a year in prison.
Also in 2016, two Canadian Air Transat pilots were arrested before taking off from Glasgow, Scotland amid suspicions they were both intoxicated.
In 2002, two pilots were arrested for operating America West Airlines Flight 556 out of Miami. This flight actually left the ground, and the two men were ordered to return the aircraft to the airport.
Frequent fliers should rest assured that incidents like these are rare, it's just the nature of flying that seems to heighten the seriousness. After all, you can't ask a 747 to pull over.
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