The 44-year-old man was led off the plane by police following a breath test at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1 on Sunday morning. The Boeing 777 United Airlines flight had been scheduled to fly to San Francisco. It is thought the police moved after being tipped off by a member of the airport’s ground staff, who suspected the pilot had been drinking before the 5,300-mile flight.

A Metropolitan police spokeswoman said: “At approximately 9am on Sunday, officers attended an aircraft at Heathrow Terminal One and arrested a 44-year-old man. “The man arrested is bailed to return to Heathrow police station on January 16 pending further enquiries.” A United Airlines statement said: “United’s alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for abuse of violation of this well-established policy. “Safety is out No1 priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are co-operating with authorities and conducting a full investigation.”

One passenger told The Sun: “We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The pilot was marched off the aircraft. A couple of police officers stormed onto the plane as we were all sitting down and went straight for the cockpit. “We didn’t have a clue what was happening and we were kept waiting on the plane for hours.” The passenger added: “It is horrifying to think we were apparently so close to being flown thousands of miles by somebody who could have been drinking. “It was a horrible start to our trip but if it wasn’t for the person who called the cops, our dream holiday could have become a nightmare.

The legal limit for pilots is nine micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – more than three times stricter than the drink-drive limit which is 35 micrograms.

I wonder how often they aren’t discovered before takeoff?

  1. Improbus says:

    Nice graphic! That could sell some beer. I feel like getting hammered just looking at it.

  2. GigG says:

    While they say what the legal limit is I don’t see where the pilot in question was tested to see what his level was.

    He has not yet been proved guilty. But let’s remember even if he is guilty there is a second pilot up there in the front office.

  3. chrisroxx says:

    Is’nt Adam Curry A 44 year old drunk pilot that was flying to san fran yesterday?

  4. Special Ed says:

    Aw hell, he probably would have sobered up by the time he landed, in Iowa.

  5. hhopper says:

    Way to destroy your life! What an idiot.

    (Where can I get some of that Drunk Pilot beer?)

  6. eyeofthetiger says:

    5,300-mile you only need to be sober on the landing. It’s not like they are doing quarter miles with UFO’s or anything :)(I)

  7. Iditarod Dog says:

    That’s got to be United 955, a flight I take often, and was on 11 days ago. Scary to think about…

  8. Ian says:

    Maybe it was Adam Curry. He probably was drinking due to all the anxiety caused by TSA and decided to fly himself 😉

  9. Mr. Fusion says:

    The pilot was removed from the flight. Good.

  10. Jägermeister says:

    For he’s a jolly good fellow…

  11. McCullough says:

    #10. Phew….that calls for a drink!

  12. Special Ed says:

    Apparently what tipped them off is he was puking out of that little side window.

  13. Bryan Price says:

    My wife flies international twice a month. Through Atlanta to Joburg, South Africa. Her last flight took the pilot 5 tries before he got it right and got landed. I get to face the flight next month myself. Sounds fun.

  14. busdriver320 says:

    Guilty until proven innocent, that’s the American way. Easy headline grab, I wonder if Dvorak will post a retraction when it is found out that he had some mouthwash or other such reason for a miniscule amount of alcohol. I’m guessing not.

    I have had passengers joke and half joke to me about drinking and flying- each time the flight was delayed an hour or so while I went and had a breathalyzer. I will let pilots safety record stand on its own. You non-pilots piling onto this story, I think pilots should start flipping you S… every time there is an accident on the highway or there is another DUI, but that would get real repetitive.

  15. The Monster's Lawyer says:

    #14 BD/320 – Although most drivers are not responsible for 200+ passengers in their vehicles like commercial pilots are they are responsible for those around them on the road. Therefore I reject your argument but I do agree that all DUI’s either in the sky or on the flats be accountable. Now as far as judging too soon…well you are on a blog here.

  16. Mr. Fusion says:

    #14, Busdriver,

    Air travel is as safe as it is simply because of the oversight and care taken. When a plane crashes, there is usually a very heavy loss of life. When a car crashes, people usually walk away. Not always, but usually. Air safety depends upon a lot more than just the pilot.


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