A drunk pedestrian can be a danger to herself and cause traffic problems. A drunk driver puts everyone in his vicinity at risk. A drunk airline pilot, however, can cause almost untold tragedy, as commercial plane crashes rarely leave survivors and often produce considerable damage on the ground.
Commercial air carriers recognize the risks of allowing pilots to fly after consuming too much alcohol, and the companies work with federal aviation authorities around the world to enforce sobriety rules. This is the positive news coming from two reports that pilots with detectable levels of alcohol in their bodies were pulled from United Airlines flights at London’s Heathrow Airport.
In late October 2008, a United pilot was arrested minutes before taking off for San Francisco. This week, on Nov. 10, a pilot scheduled to fly United passengers to Chicago was removed from his plane. In both instances, the pilots’ blood alcohol content exceed the 0.02 permitted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the 0.04 permitted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
The bad new is that the pilots would consider flying after they had been drinking. Airline pilots literally have passengers’ lives in their hands. Pilots, therefore, should never fly when they are impaired or distracted. While no one was harmed by the irresponsible actions of the inebriated pilots, the very fact that someone could have been is unacceptable.
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