Travel News > November 2009 > American pilot arrested at Heathrow

American pilot arrested at Heathrow

13/11/2009

A United Airlines (www.united.com) pilot is due in court next week after being accused of attempting to fly a plane from London Heathrow while over the legal alcohol limit.

The Boeing 767 Captain Erwin Vermont was due to pilot from London to Chicago had 124 passengers and 11 crew on board. He was arrested just before take off.

Newspaper reports this week quoted a United Airlines spokesperson saying: Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation.

""United Airlines' alcohol policy is amongst the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy.""

The pilot was charged and bailed to appear before Uxbridge magistrates court on November 20. Flight 949 was cancelled and all the passengers had to be moved to alternative flights.

A similar incident occurred at Heathrow in May when an American Airlines (www.aa.com) ? also scheduled to fly a plane to Chicago ? failed a breath test. He was later found to be six times over the legal limit to fly a plane.

In January, another United States' carrier Southwest Airlines put a pilot on leave after passengers at a security checkpoint in Columbus, Ohio, told authorities that he smelled of alcohol.

The pilot ran into a restroom and changed out of his uniform jacket and called in sick.

The alcohol limits for pilots are much lower than for car drivers in the UK and pilots are asked not to drink alcohol eight hours before a flight but many passengers may be surprised to know that pilots are not routinely tested.

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