Delta Pilot Arrested Last June After Failing Breathalyzer is Now Sentenced to 10 Months in Jail

by Anthony Losanno
Delta 767-300

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In June, I wrote about a Delta Air Lines captain named Lawrence Russell who was arrested and a flight from Edinburgh Airport (EDI) to New York John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) was canceled. Thirty-five minutes before departure he was removed from his flying duties after two bottles of Jägermeister were found in his carry-on bags and he failed a subsequent breathalyzer test. Police Scotland confirmed that the arrest was around the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.

The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 concerns substance (alcohol or drugs) use by crew members. With the police confirmation, a blood test was conducted and he was found to have over twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. This does not mean necessarily that he was incapacitated, as pilots are held to much stricter standards. If a pilot is found in violation of this law, the penalties are serious (including potential jail time).

Delta Pilot

Lynne Barrie, Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, said:

Lawrence Russell’s conduct would have endangered many lives; the consequences could have been catastrophic. He showed a reckless disregard for the safety of his passengers and crew. The pilot of a commercial aircraft holds the lives of hundreds in his hands. He would have put all of them at serious risk.”

Russell was sentenced to 10 months in jail and will likely serve half of that time. His career as a pilot is also almost certainly over.

Anthony’s Take: It’s good that this was caught as flying under the influence of anything potentially puts an entire plane of people in danger. You have to wonder what people are thinking and this captain certainly should have known better.

(Featured Image Credit: Delta Air Lines and Alexander Lawrie.)

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