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Police pluck drunk pilot from cockpit just before take-off

September 25, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Police have removed a 54-year-old airline captain from the cockpit of his plane on suspicion being drunk, as he carried out pre-flight checks in preparation for take off.

Britain’s Daily Mirror broke the story, saying a pilot was due to appear in court accused of being drunk in charge of his passenger jet. He was said to have appeared unsteady on his feet and smelt of alcohol, though he was allegedly chewing gum and sucking mints to hide the odour.

The airline involved is Pakistan International Airlines. Police boarded the 54-year-old captain’s EGT_Artical Banner A 250x250Airbus A310 at Leeds Bradford Airport.

“Officers asked Irfan Faiz, from Pakistan, to take a breath test shortly after 10pm last night. He was then arrested and today charged after questioning,” the Mirror said.

The flight, Pakistan International Airlines flight AK 776 to Islamabad, had been delayed and was preparing for take-off at a later time. It was delayed again when police arrived and took its pilot away.

When Faiz appeared in Leeds Magistrates’ Court the next day, the court heard that he was four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying a plane.

Martin Townend, prosecuting, said: “There was a potential for the plane to have been piloted by a drunk pilot. That would have been dangerous for the passengers, and people living in the UK, as that plane could have potentially crashed.”

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that Faiz’s defence counsel, Yousuf Khan, conceded that Faiz registered 41mg of alcohol per 100ml when breathalysed – well over the legal limit for flying of 9mg, But he said his client had an unblemished pilot’s record.

After the flight was delayed, all 177 passengers were given the choice of going home (for passengers who lived locally) or saying in a hotel for the night. The flight finally took off a day late, with another pilot at the controls.

Faiz is believed to have been with the airline for more than 20 years and has been flying for 25 years.

Faiz admitted one charge of carrying out “an activity ancillary to an aviation function while impaired by drink”. He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on 18 October 2013. The maximum sentence is  two years imprisonment.

Written by : Peter Needham

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