The 52-year-old pilot, James Clifton, could face federal charges.
Authorities say a TSA officer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport noticed the pilot was intoxicated, and the Niagara Border Transport Agency removed him from the cockpit and gave him a Ventilator before the plane departs for Florida.
He is said to have registered .17, which is double the legal limit for driving in the US, but four times the legal limit for pilots
Pilots, face stricter blood alcohol limits, with .04 considered illegal.
According to police, the pilot said he did not drink alcohol the morning of the flight but had 7-8 drinks the night before.
They say Clifton drank all night at a bar near the hotel where he and his crew were staying.
According to the police report, another pilot of the flight told police Clifton missed the crew bus to the airport and had to catch an Uber. While passing through security, he caught the attention of an officer and a TSA agent.
“It’s very unusual as far as everyone in Buffalo, at the Buffalo airport. Really, no one can recall anything like this happening,” he said.
Clifton, from Orlando, Florida, was taken into custody and released to JetBlue, who notified federal authorities.
The police report also said Clifton was carrying a firearm, which was licensed under a post-911 program that allows commercial pilots to arm themselves. Police confiscated the gun and three 17-round magazines.
“The safety of JetBlue customers and crew members is our top priority,” JetBlue said in a statement. “We’ve always followed all DOT rules and requirements regarding alcohol and have a very strict internal alcohol intolerance policy. We’re aware of the incident this morning in Buffalo and are taking action. fully cooperate with law enforcement. We are also conducting our own internal investigation. The crew involved has been dismissed.”
The Airline Pilots Association, which represents JetBlue pilots, released the following statement:
“The profession of an airline pilot in North America is one of the most scrutinized, and the professionalism of an airline pilot has contributed to making air transport the safest form of transport for passengers. and the carrier.”
Meanwhile, the FAA said it was investigating the allegations:
“The FAA is investigating allegations that an airline pilot attempted to report duty while under the influence of alcohol. The agency takes these matters seriously.”
The FAA’s drug and alcohol regulations prohibit pilots from drinking alcohol while on duty or within eight hours of flying duty.
FAA regulations also prohibit pilots from flying or attempting to fly an aircraft within eight hours of drinking alcohol or if they have an alcohol level of 0.04 or higher.
“This couldn’t be any more serious. The idea of letting anyone with a slight impairment get into a commercial cockpit with all the people living behind you and all the people living on the ground below you, just couldn’t be. tolerate any disability and from a pilot’s point of view, this is the end of a career,” said retired pilot John Nance.
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https://abc13.com/drunk-pilot-buffalo-niagara-international-airport-jetblue-falls/11614962/ Police say the drunk pilot disembarked a JetBlue flight at Buffalo Niagra . International Airport