Pilot Pulled from Cockpit and Sent to Jail
In a shocking incident that jeopardized the lives of hundreds of passengers, a United Airlines pilot was recently removed from service after showing up drunk to fly a plane from Paris to Dallas. The 63-year-old American pilot, identified only as Henry W., had a blood-alcohol level of 0.132%, which is about three times the legal limit permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration for pilots in Europe. This breach of responsibility led to a one-year flight ban for the pilot, along with other legal consequences.
The incident occurred on a Sunday afternoon when Henry W. was scheduled to take off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to a stop at Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia, with approximately 267 passengers on board. However, the situation took a dangerous turn when Henry showed up to work exhibiting signs of obvious drunkenness. One police officer described him as “staggering slightly, with glassy eyes and a pasty mouth”. These visible symptoms, combined with his high blood-alcohol level, left no doubt about his compromised state, putting the safety of everyone on board at risk.
Henry W. faced the consequences of his irresponsible actions in a French court. Despite claiming to have only consumed two glasses of wine the night before the flight, his statements were contradicted by officers who interacted with him before the flight. The judge presiding over the case expressed doubt about Henry’s claims and emphasized the potential catastrophe that could have unfolded due to his actions. She declared, “there could have been a plane crash – you put 267 passengers at risk”.
As a result, the court handed down a one-year flight ban to Henry W., preventing him from operating an aircraft during that time. Additionally, he received a six-month suspended prison term and was fined nearly $5,000. These legal consequences serve as a strong reminder of the severity of the offense and the importance of maintaining strict standards for alcohol consumption in the aviation industry.
United Airlines, being committed to the safety of its customers and crew, took immediate action upon discovering the pilot’s condition. The pilot was removed from service, and the company has been fully cooperating with French authorities throughout the investigation and legal proceedings. United Airlines reiterated its stringent no-tolerance policy for alcohol and stated that it holds all employees to the highest standards. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to these policies and maintaining the trust that passengers place in the airline.
This is not the first time United Airlines has faced issues related to alcohol consumption by its pilots. In 2019, two pilots were arrested in Scotland on suspicion of being drunk before their trans-Atlantic flight to Newark. This incident prompted the airline to introduce its “bottle-to-throttle” policy, which mandates that pilots must abstain from alcohol for at least 12 hours before their flights. United Airlines took these measures to ensure that the actions of a few individuals do not compromise the reputation and safety of the entire airline.
The incident involving the United Airlines pilot who showed up drunk to fly a plane from Paris to Dallas serves as a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining sobriety in the aviation industry. The court’s decision to ban the pilot from flying for one year, along with the suspended prison term and fine, emphasizes the gravity of the offense and the potential consequences it could have had. United Airlines, in its commitment to passenger safety, swiftly removed the pilot from service and continues to cooperate with authorities.