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United Airlines flight UA331 was scheduled to fly from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on a Boeing 777-200. The flight was cancelled shortly before departure when the captain allegedly showed up to the airport intoxicated.
The 63-year-old captain was reported way above the legal alcohol limit. He was supposedly “showing signs of obvious drunkenness” and “he was staggering slightly, his eyes were glassy, and his mouth pasty.” He was subjected to two blood alcohol tests. These resulted in his blood alcohol level being recorded at 0.056 and 0.059. French law limits pilots blood alcohol level to 0.02 (in the US, the limit is 0.04 for pilots). The pilot was nearly 3x over the legal limit in France.
A French court sentenced the pilot to a €4,500 fine, a six-month suspended sentence, and a one-year suspension of his pilot’s license. He’ll likely face additional consequences when he is back in the US. Thankfully, security staff noticed his erratic behavior and stopped him before he was able to put an entire Boeing 777 filled with up to 276 passengers plus crew in danger.
This is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last. Just a few weeks ago, a Delta Air Lines pilot was arrested for being intoxicated at Edinburgh Airport (EDI) before his flight. As One Mile at a Time points out (and I agree with), how did the rest of the flight crew not notice his condition?
Under European flight cancellation and delay regulations (known as EC261), passengers can claim up to €600 for a significant delay. This situation seems like it would be covered and passengers on that flight should seek this payout.
Anthony’s Take: This was luckily addressed before there was any danger to the passengers and crew. Alcohol and driving (and especially flying) don’t mix regardless of the factors behind the incident. This will possibly end this captain’s career being that he is close to retirement age already.
(Boeing 777 Image Credit: United Airlines.)
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