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Drunk US pilot pulled from cockpit

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A breath test found he had a blood alcohol content of 0.023 percent - a hair above the legal limit in the Netherlands. (www.washingtonpost.com) Ещё...

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atsdroid
Andrew Skretvedt 0
Wow. You have to be careful out there. Shall I indulge in rank hypothetical speculations...yeah, I'll have a little fun analyzing this and maybe we'll learn something!

Wikipedia shows Netherlands' limit is 0.02%, whereas for pilots, the FAA specifies 0.04% (plus one cannot be "under the influence" nor have consumed within 8hrs prior to assuming crew duties). [14CFR91.17(a)] In addition, the Wikipedia page apparently references some case law that suggests in the absence of proof of the timeline of one's consumption, the FAA will consider you "under the influence" if your BAC is tested or inferred to be >= 0.019% at the time of flight or assumption of crew duties in an aircraft.

Given the average 180lb man can metabolize about 1 drink/hr (roughly lowering BAC by 0.015/hr), as little as 30 more minutes would've put him at a concentration low enough to be effectively alcohol-free. He could've gone on a mini-bender the night before, getting drunk to about 0.12 (no doubt at that level), and metabolized his way back to zero within 8 hours.

Based on these average rates, I'd guess he either properly observed the "bottle-to-throttle" restriction, but overdid the actual drinking, or failed to observe the time restriction and had, say, two drinks within 2 hours before his flight (a beer or two w/lunch before an afternoon flight -type scenario).

In the former case, in the USA he would be technically OK unless he was observed to be "under the influence", i.e. had a hangover, at which point the test result being >0.019% would be used to substantiate the FAA's assertion of that fact. In the latter case, in the USA he'd be in clear violation, even if _clearly not_ under the influence, if his consumption within the 8hr blackout window could be substantiated by evidence (like a restaurant receipt).

In the Netherlands, however, he seemed to have been in violation any way you cut it.

About the anonymous tip-off: it seems he was either observed "under the influence" (which...realistically, would be hard to tell in the latter scenario, but might be more obvious if he'd been on a bender the prior night). Or, there's the intriguing possibility that he was observed "innocently" drinking lightly about an hour or two before the flight, and while such drinking needn't cause impairment, is in violation of FAA regs. The tipster might have known this, or was just concerned to see it occurring at all.

Certainly, professionalism and respect for the safety of the mission would dictate that a pilot take some responsibility and give a wide berth to both of these drinking scenarios. While in some circumstances you might escape scientifically unimpaired, what message does is broadcast to your fellow crew and passengers, to be seen trying to pick your way through the regulatory screens?

A good rule of thumb: don't drink on (or the day before) a trip. Save it for after you're back at base and have some off-duty days comin'.

What'cha think?
genethemarine
Gene spanos 0
Many years ago while assigned to the midnight shift - street duty as a Police Oficer - we had the occasion to have a drunk airline pilot approach us while on a traffis stop with a violator.
This drunken pilot beagin to into the middle of my traffic stop. After being warned several times - he refused and was arrested. ORD flight control desk was called and they pulled him off his AM flight. He flew back to court and lost it too! An old 747 Capt even got out of bed to come down to talk to him through the cell bars~!
Lock'em up!
Lt. Ret.
Gene The Marine
johnmaclaren
John MacLaren 0
In my opinion, he was legal. How many decimal points do we take it out. Where's the line? One an argue .023 rounds down to .02. If you keep splitting hairs and measure to smaller & smaller numbers, you will be able to bust anybody near the limit. Besides, if he were here he could have had another.

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