Pax accuse captain of drinking

inbound

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PORT COLUMBUS INCIDENT
Travelers say they smelled alcohol, confronted pilot
Captain didn't fly; Southwest, FAA are investigating
Thursday, January 8, 2009 3:14 AM
By Kurt Ludlow and Andy Hirsch
WBNS-10TV
WBNS-10TV VIDEO

* Pilot Accused Of Drinking, Replaced On Port Columbus Flight

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident Tuesday at Port Columbus in which two passengers accused a Southwest Airlines pilot of having been drinking.

The Chicago-based captain, who was preparing to pilot Flight 3396 to Orlando, Fla., was replaced by another Southwest captain, said a spokesman for the airline, which also is reviewing the matter.

The accused captain, now on paid leave, isn't being identified because he wasn't arrested and no charges have been filed. The plane he was to pilot, a Boeing 737 capable of carrying more than 120 passengers, ended up departing on time Tuesday afternoon.

According to a report filed by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority police, Andy Maisner and business colleague Chan Mahon noticed the captain at a security checkpoint staffed by the Transportation Security Administration.

"As we went through security, we told the TSA guy, 'Hey, that pilot smells like he's reeking of alcohol. He ought to be checked out,' " Maisner told WBNS-10TV last night.

Maisner and Mahon, both California residents, followed the captain down Concourse A and become alarmed when they mistakenly thought he was heading to the gate where their flight was about to begin boarding.

"So we went up, and Chan said to the pilot, 'Hey, you just reek of alcohol, and if you've got a drinking problem, you shouldn't be flying this plane.'

"The guy just took off running. He didn't say, 'I haven't been drinking.' He just turned beet red and took off."

Airport police found the captain in a nearby restroom, where he'd traded his uniform jacket and cap for a "civilian" jacket, the report said.

While in the restroom, the captain apparently called the airline to report that he was sick, triggering his replacement on the Orlando-bound flight.

The police officers said the captain did smell of alcohol but didn't appear to be impaired. He told them that he had "partied hard" at his hotel the night before but that he hadn't been drinking that day, the report said.

Airline officials told police that the captain would be given a blood-alcohol test. No results were immediately available.

FAA regulations stipulate that no one can pilot an aircraft within eight hours of consuming alcohol or with a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 or higher.

It turned out that the plane Maisner and Mahon were about to board was adjacent to Flight 3396
 

LowlyPropCapt

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Sounds a little like he might have called in sick before he made it to the restroom... How likely is it that they could get a replacement to take the flight out on time unless this guy was reporting way early?

Anyhow, be careful. It seems like everyone is the enemy now.
 

OPECJet

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Hopefully this turns out to be nothing and he bagged the trip before he ever got to the airport.
 

DX Rick

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Anyhow, be careful. It seems like everyone is the enemy now.
Never once have I partied on an overnight because of this crap. I'd be more than happy to delay/cancel a flight because our passengers accused us of drinking.
 

JumpersAway

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I'm not advocating it, but wonder if a crewmember could sue accusing parties if they are wrongfully accused of drinking prior to a flight. With all the litigation happy people out there, wonder if there's any case to it?
 

buscap

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People!!!

Let's not defend what may be indefensible!!! The dude fessed up to the cops!!!!

Ain't no place for drunk/hungover pilots in the cockpit unless it's me!!!
 

PCL_128

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Hopefully this turns out to be nothing and he bagged the trip before he ever got to the airport.
Even if he called after getting to the airport, he can still be safe. As long as you don't get onto the airplane, you can probably dig your way out with the help of the union. You might have to enter the HIMS program, but at least you won't lose your job.
 

PCL_128

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People!!!

Let's not defend what may be indefensible!!! The dude fessed up to the cops!!!!

Ain't no place for drunk/hungover pilots in the cockpit unless it's me!!!
Fessed up? He didn't fess up to anything. This was a flight departing in the afternoon, and he had been drinking the previous night. He was almost certainly outside of the 8-hour rule, which is all that SWA has, and the cops stated that he didn't appear to be impaired, so it's likely that he wasn't above 0.04 BAC, either.
 

Flyerdan

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I ain't buying these apologist explanations I'm hearing. Bottom line is he was at the airport, in uniform, near his departure gate, and smelled like alcohol in the afternoon. That behavior alone is grounds for immediate termination in my book. If he had just screwed up and partied too hard the night before and was hung over he should have called in sick and NEVER put on his uniform. In my opinion, management and union leadership should be in lock step on this issue. There is no room for this kind of thing in our profession.
 

Speedtape

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Really you guys are arguing minutia and the fine points--do you think our customers will feel any different?

Sorry, the damage has been done, true or not, no matter the facts, the public jury will rule based on the national news--even if the facts result in exoneration. He has tarnished Southwest and his fellow pilots. Moreover, he has tarnished our profession with more bad judgement.

This will be the joke on every late night show and comedy circuit. We will all probably have to talk to others ad-nauseum about the incident and embarassingly have to defend our profession.

It's not like it hasn't happen before, and want happen again. Party hard on an overnight? Geeesh! Save those activities for off the clock events.

We're not in college or high school anymore. Perception is everything. Everytime I have to be drug or alcohol tested, I think about the very small percentage of idiots like this that have brought it on!
 

hockeypilot44

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Really you guys are arguing minutia and the fine points--do you think our customers will feel any different?

Sorry, the damage has been done, true or not, no matter the facts, the public jury will rule based on the national news--even if the facts result in exoneration. He has tarnished Southwest and his fellow pilots. Moreover, he has tarnished our profession with more bad judgement.

This will be the joke on every late night show and comedy circuit. We will all probably have to talk to others ad-nauseum about the incident and embarassingly have to defend our profession.

It's not like it hasn't happen before, and want happen again. Party hard on an overnight? Geeesh! Save those activities for off the clock events.

We're not in college or high school anymore. Perception is everything. Everytime I have to be drug or alcohol tested, I think about the very small percentage of idiots like this that have brought it on!
Profession's gone dude. It's a low-paying job now. It is fun flying airplanes so that makes it better.
 

McNugget

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Anybody who uses this career as their sole source of income is an idiot. This is just a fun side-job.
 

rickair7777

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I'm not advocating it, but wonder if a crewmember could sue accusing parties if they are wrongfully accused of drinking prior to a flight. With all the litigation happy people out there, wonder if there's any case to it?
Not if someone had an honest concern in their own mind.

Now if you could prove they did it maliciously just to screw with the guy, that's a whole nother story.
 

RemoveB4Flght

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Even if he called after getting to the airport, he can still be safe. As long as you don't get onto the airplane, you can probably dig your way out with the help of the union. You might have to enter the HIMS program, but at least you won't lose your job.
You are kidding right? Just getting on the van and heading towards the airport can be construed as an intent to operate that flight. Amnesty doesn't begin at security, or the gate, or at the end of the jet bridge, it starts with the decision to put on his uniform in the morning and chance it. The 8 hour rule is trumped by the "feeling the effects".

You might argue that he should get due process and the benefit of the doubt, but had his intentions been honorable, he would have spared embrassment to himself, his company, and our professional as a whole by:

1) not being in uniform- had he alreayd called in sick, there would be no reason to be in uniform to deadhead. If he had no other clothes, then wear the shirt without any brass or epaulets.

2) when confronted by concerned pax, assuring them that he would most certainly NOT be operating the flight, and he would just be riding home.

3) not running away... how many people who run on that show "Cops" turn out to be innocent?

I hope people consider their career on those "boring" overnights...
 

rickair7777

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Even if he called after getting to the airport, he can still be safe. As long as you don't get onto the airplane, you can probably dig your way out with the help of the union. You might have to enter the HIMS program, but at least you won't lose your job.
As far as criminal law goes, he's fine...he was not in the vehicle. You can't a DUI for possession of car keys in the parking lot.

FAA, he's fine. Again no way to prove that he was going to get on the airplane. No FAR about drunk in uniform.

He might get in trouble with the company for being out of sorts in public view, but they can't prove he was going to fly either.

My guess is a paid vacation, maybe followed by intervention.
 

PeanuckleCRJ

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He didn't "run away" as the pax stated to the press. The official statement was that he didn't say a word, pulled out his cell phone, and walked off.

The police officer said he showed no signs of intoxication, although a slight hint of alcohol on his breath. No BAC tests were done, interestingly enough.

The only way you are toast is if you break the threshold of the airplane, or if you refuse any sort of treatment. This case, though, is if you were tested and had alcohol in your system. I'm not sure what the case will be since he seems to be exonerated.
 

Dubya

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Anybody who uses this career as their sole source of income is an idiot. This is just a fun side-job.

Idiot? What? 80k (regional)-200+k (major) Captain pay range...13,14,15,16,17,18 days off per month, free (mostly), super cheap travel.....is a side-job?

Idiot?

W
 

hockeypilot44

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Idiot? What? 80k (regional)-200+k (major) Captain pay range...13,14,15,16,17,18 days off per month, free (mostly), super cheap travel.....is a side-job?

Idiot?

W

Regional first officer - 25k/year. It's a job. I've been an airline pilot for over 5 years and I have yet to break 100k in one year. The majority of regional captains out there do not make 80k. Per Diem does not count.
 
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