A pilot flying a Sunwing Airlines jet through Canada, on its way to Mexico, has been charged with impairment after being found passed out in the airplane’s cockpit. He reportedly had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when the crew investigated, after noticing the man was acting strangely shortly before takeoff.
According to The Guardian, the yet unidentified drunk pilot will be going before a justice of the peace to face charges of having care and control of an aircraft while impaired, with his court date taking place after he has sobered up. Given how much he had in his system at the time of his arrest, police felt it would not be in the man’s best interest to face the justice right away.
Sargeant Paul Stacey of Calgary, Alberta says the man was found slumped over his seat by the plane’s crew. His name will reportedly be released to the public after he sees his court date through.
The Boeing 737, reports The Globe and Mail, had 99 passengers on board as well as six crew members. While en route to Cancun, the Canada jet was scheduled to make stops in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The crew, says Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Massey, handled the matter with a degree of professionalism she is extremely proud of, given what a disaster the whole thing could have turned out to be. Massey referred to the matter as “unfortunate,” and went on to confirm that the Canada pilot was indeed unfit to fly, and it was absolutely the right decision to remove him from the aircraft. An apology was issued to all passengers whose flight was interrupted by this ordeal, with Massey assuring them that safety remains the first and foremost concern of the airline and all its employees.
The incident occurred shortly before 7 a.m. local time, with another pilot taking over the plane after the intoxicated man was placed under arrest. The original pilot may actually face additional charges, reveals Global News, given that Transport Canada has been alerted to the incident.
Transport Canada spokesman Dan Dugas made it clear in an emailed statement that flying an aircraft while impaired is a very serious criminal offence, as the law states that eight hours must pass after consuming alcohol before the pilot or crew can resume working. While Paul Stacey admits the first pilot never should have been allowed to attempt takeoff in the first place, given his condition, he goes on to say that the man was clearly not able to operate the aircraft and therefore those on board were never in any real danger.
By Lorelai Zelmerlow
Photo Courtesy Sunwing Airlines