American Airlines Co-Pilot Accused Of Being Drunk, Detained At Detroit Airport

An American Airlines co-pilot accused of being drunk before an early morning flight on Saturday was detained at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, federal authorities said.

According to ABC News, the Federal Aviation Administration said the co-pilot was held from a Saturday morning flight from Detroit to Philadelphia after he failed a breathalyzer test.

The pilot was detained after arriving at the suburban Detroit airport, CBS Detroit station WWJ reported, citing airport spokesman Michael Conway.

“Police responded with a field Breathalyzer and the co-pilot was indeed over the legal limits. They also took him to a local jurisdiction for a more sophisticated machine called the Data Master. On that machine, he also continued to be over the legal limit for a co-pilot.”

FAA rules state that pilots cannot fly with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent or greater.

Conway said the American Airlines co-pilot was released following the incident, and authorities are determining whether to file charges.

While the name of the co-pilot is being withheld, he is described as being in his early 50s — born in 1965 — and from Pennsylvania. Officials wouldn’t release any more information.

American Airlines spokeswoman Laura Nedbal said in a statement that Flight 736 was cancelled and customers were taking other flights.

“Safety is our highest priority and we apologize to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans. We are assisting local law enforcement. Further questions should be referred to them.”

American Airline officials refused to discuss the co-pilot, but said they are assisting investigators.

TSA agents reportedly stopped the co-pilot after he started acting strangely, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Some passengers scheduled to take the flight that the American Airlines co-pilot was assigned to told Fox 2 Detroit they feel flight crews need to be checked out as a precautionary measure before flying.

Passenger D’Aundra Hines told the station she found it particularly worrisome because her daughter was scheduled to fly soon.

“It actually is scary especially because me sending my 18-year-old to North Carolina. I’m kinda putting her life in their hands, so it’s making me a little bit nervous now to send her off on this flight.”

Conway told Fox 2 Detroit that airlines have routine testing of its crew members and said police don’t “routinely check flight crews.”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, in a document entitled “Alcohol and Flying, a Deadly Combination,” the FAA reveals findings of studies that determined the effects of alcohol on pilots at various blood alcohol content levels. Among other provisions, FAA regulations state that no person may operate or attempt to operate an aircraft under the following the conditions.

  • Within eight hours of having consumed alcohol.
  • While under the influence of alcohol.
  • With a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent or greater.
  • While using any drug that adversely affects safety.

The guidelines insist on eight hours from “bottle to throttle,” but also say “a more conservative approach is to wait 24 hours from the last use of alcohol before flying.”

The behavior of the American Airlines co-pilot most likely would have been picked up by his fellow crew member had he made it past TSA officials, but it’s commendable that TSA picked up that he was inebriated and had no business flying and endangering the passengers in his care.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]