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Delta Pilot Arrested Minutes Before Flight Due to Suspected Drunkenness

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A Delta pilot was pulled out of the cockpit and arrested for allegedly being drunk Tuesday morning, minutes before he was set to fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to San Diego (SAN).

The pilot tried to duck out of secondary screening in the crewmember TSA security entrance, according to an incident report from airport police. He was arrested when the plane was still at the gate, after officers discovered an “alcoholic container” and the smell of alcohol on his breath.

The 37-year-old pilot was arrested at 11:07 a.m., according to police records. His flight was set to depart at 11:20 a.m.

Federal regulations require pilots to be under .04% blood-alcohol content level – half the legal driving limit in most states – and ban flying within eight hours of drinking. The pilot has not yet been charged.

Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said an investigation is ongoing, including a full toxicology report.

Delta told ABC News that its alcohol policy for pilots “is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation. Delta is cooperating with local authorities in their investigation.”


Bottom Line

Airlines and regulators are right to be strict on pilots for drinking on or before the job. But this was a near-miss. Somehow, the pilot escaped security screeners and wasn't arrested until minutes before his flight was set to depart.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

1 Responses

  • I worked for Delta in Flight Ops for many years. Delta has the strictest alcohol standards in the world for its pilots. There is zero tolerance for any trace of alcohol once the pilot enters the plane. It does not matter that he may not be legally drunk. He must be completely dry. Some airlines allow the pilot to enter the plane and the cockpit before their standards kick in. Some also allow the pilot to enter a program if he is suspected of alcohol use but has not been arrested. Delta offers none of this. You have a trace of alcohol in your system that can be detected via established testing means and enter the plane, you are fired.

    Blind Squirrel

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