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FAA Revokes Am. West Pilots' Licenses
Thu Jul 4,10:35 AM ET
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration ( news - web sites) revoked the licenses of the two America West pilots accused of trying to fly a jetliner from Miami while drunk.


The federal agency announced Thursday that emergency orders taking away the licenses are effective immediately.

Federal regulations prohibit pilots from operating an aircraft or performing other safety sensitive functions within eight hours of consuming alcohol or if they have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher, said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. America West's policy is 12 hours.

Police said breath tests revealed the two pilots had blood-alcohol levels above 0.08 percent.

After a security screener noticed they smelled of alcohol Monday morning, pilots Thomas Porter Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41, were ordered to return to the gate with their Phoenix-bound plane and 124 passengers.

Hughes initially told police it was "merely mouthwash," according to police reports.

The two pilots were charged with a felony count of operating an aircraft under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence. They were released on $7,000 bond each late Monday and returned to their Arizona homes.

Arraignment was set for July 22. The pilots could face five years in prison if convicted.

Brown has said Cloyd and Hughes will be able to reapply for licenses after a year by meeting the same requirements they faced when they first applied.

A spokesman for the Cloyd's family, Steve Hicks said, "We're saddened by the occurrences and the allegations made against them."

Arizona police records show that Cloyd has been arrested twice for alleged alcohol-related offenses while at his home in Arizona.

Two years ago, Cloyd was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after allegedly harassing his downstairs neighbor. He told police he had been "drinking a lot" before he shouted obscenities, pounded on her door and stomped on his floor, records show.

He was sentenced to two years' probation.

In 1998, Cloyd had been drinking when he was arrested for misdemeanor domestic assault at his home in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix, records show. He admitted he spit on his then-wife and shoved her into a refrigerator.

Prosecutors dropped the assault charge after Cloyd took an anger-management class, said Carla Boatner, administrator for Chandler Municipal Court.

FAA policy requires pilots to report if they have been charged with certain alcohol-related offenses, such as driving under the influence. Their pilot's certificate is suspended after a third offense.

In 2000, the last year for which a detailed breakdown is available, nine of 10,419 airline employees randomly screened for alcohol tested positive, the FAA said. Nine pilots also failed last year.

So far this year, seven have failed, not including the America West pilots.

FAA rules require airlines every year to test 10 percent of employees who have jobs in which safety matters, including pilots, flight attendants and maintenance crews, the agency said.

Airlines must notify the FAA when an employee tests positive for drugs or alcohol.

Pilots who fail the tests lose their medical certificates, which they need to fly, the FAA said. Last year, 54 pilots had their medical certificates suspended or revoked because they were convicted for operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol.

Pilots who lose their medical certificates can get back into the cockpit by going through a rehabilitation program and getting medical approval.
 
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