Police: The pilot removed from the cockpit before takeoff was drunk | Way of life
CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (AP) — A pilot who appeared to be drunk was removed from the cockpit of a JetBlue flight as he was about to take off from Buffalo, police said.
Tests confirmed the pilot had a blood alcohol level of 0.17%, transit police said. Federal rules set a limit of 0.04 for stealing.
The flight was temporarily delayed Wednesday morning. Passengers en route to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said they watched from the plane as the pilot – one of two scheduled for the flight – being placed in a patrol car.
“Whatever the procedures before flying, they should have caught him before he got on the plane, but they didn’t. He was on the plane in the cockpit”, Desiree Breckenridge Barnes-Jean says WGRZ-TV. “What is heartbreaking is that all of our lives would have been put in danger.”
The pilot has been identified as James Clifton, 52, of Orlando, Florida. He could not be reached by phone for comment on Thursday.
The police report states that prior to boarding, Clifton appeared “off” to Transportation Security Administration officers, prompting Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police to pull him out of the cockpit and conduct a blood alcohol test. .
Clifton’s co-pilot said the two went out to dinner the night before and Clifton stayed at the restaurant when he left. He missed the airport shuttle the next morning and arrived late at the airport in an Uber, according to the report.
JetBlue Airways Corp., in a statement, said “the crew member involved has been removed from duty.”
“The safety of JetBlue customers and crew members is our first priority. We adhere to all (Department of Transportation) alcohol rules and requirements at all times and have a very strict internal zero tolerance alcohol policy,” according to the statement, which says an internal investigation is planned.
Clifton was not immediately charged, according to the police report. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on Thursday.
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