Friday, April 4, 2008

Drinking and Flying

Although pilots are stereo-typical heavy drinkers, pilot alcohol consumption is strictly regulated. Transport Canada's Rule is that you are not to have had a drink within 8 hours of acting as a crew member or still be under the influence of any alcohol. "8 hours bottle to throttle". Some airlines have even stricter policies. There can be serious reprecusions for breaking that rule. In the US, two airline pilots who had been drinking prior to their flight were sentenced to 2 1/2 and 5 years in jail!

These were not them - this is Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla from the Man show - take this skit with a grain of salt:

Drinking before flying is no laughing matter. This is one of the most important rules that you must follow in your flying career. There is NO reason why you should be in a position where you have had a drink less than 8 hours before your flight.

The pilots in the article below were lucky to only be suspended for 3 weeks. There has been quite an uproar on AvCanada about this incident. While some people may argue that "it was only 1 beer and it was only 7.5 hours before the flight" I would argue that this is unacceptable. You know when you are on-call and when you're scheduled to depart. As a pilot you're required to know how to tell time and know how long 8 hours is. If you have had a drink within those 8 hours it is your responsibility to be a professional and not fly until you are within the rule. While sure, it's nice to have a beer with dinner, but is it worth your career? I don't think any beer tastes that good. I do not know the exact situation that these pilots were in so I'm not going to pass judgement, but for new pilots, it's something you have to be very careful about - it could have serious reprecusions.

Post-flight beers prove costly for three pilots

By: Aldo Santin

Updated: April 3 at 02:00 AM CDT

Having a beer with their dinner has cost three young pilots a suspension without pay.

Mark Wehrle, general manager of Perimeter Aviation, confirmed Wednesday night that Transport Canada had suspended the licences of three pilots for a three-week period stemming from an incident in September.

Wehrle said the three pilots -- one has since moved on to a larger airline -- had flown a cargo run to Fargo. While having dinner down there after they arrived, they each had a beer. Wehrle said the three young men brought their planes home the next morning. However, Wehrle said that pilots are prohibited from consuming alcohol for eight hours before they take-off.

"It turns out that this was at the 7.5-hour mark," Wehrle said. "Someone on the flight crew reported it to us and they confirmed that it happened."

Wehrle said he didn't think the actions of the three young pilots, all believed to be in their mid-20s, had put their aircraft or the public at risk but added it was a violation of the rules nonetheless and Perimeter suspended them for three weeks without pay at the time, adding the company also reported it to Transport Canada.

Wehrle said Transport Canada investigated the incident and informed Perimeter this week that the three men would be formally sanctioned with a further three-week suspension of their licences.

"We didn't consider what they had done to be reckless," Wehrle said. "They admitted what they had done wrong and realized it was a mistake. It's part of growing up."

Wehrle said the third pilot left Perimeter for an opportunity to fly larger aircraft, adding he told the other airline about the incident when they made a background check.

"They weren't too concerned about it because they hired him on," Wehrle said. "His current employer was informed of the Transport Canada sanction and he won't be flying either."

Perimeter Aviation is a locally owned firm with more than 100 pilots, and operates a flight training school, charter and contract flying and a full-service maintenance bureau for other small airlines. Its website boasts that its clients include Great-West Life, Canwest Global, Reimer Express, James Richardson Sons, United Parcel Service, Air Canada, Purolator Courier and Brinks Canada.

Wehrle said that two of the pilots were first officers at the time and the other was a recently promoted captain. He said that all three are now captains.

"They've worked hard to get where they are but they made a mistake," Wehrle said. "It was poor judgment on their part but it wasn't a heinous crime."

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