Suspected 'drunk' pilot is arrested

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The Independent Online

An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Manchester Airport yesterday, on suspicion of being drunk, shortly before his flight was due to take off, police and the airline said.

Greater Manchester police confirmed that a 45-year-old crew member from Ohio, one of three pilots on Flight 55 to Chicago, had been arrested. He was released on bail pending the results of testsand was due to report to a Manchester police station on Tuesday, a police spokesman said.

The flight, scheduled to depart at 10.30am, left Manchester about an hour late and was due to stop in New York to pick up a new pilot before continuing to Chicago. Three pilots are required on flights lasting longer than eight hours.

Tim Wagner, the American Airlines spokesman, said the airline had begun an internal inquiry into the arrest, which he called an "isolated incident".

There have been a number of cases of pilots being arrested for allegedly trying to fly planes while drunk. In one case, a pilot with Finnair was jailed for six months after an incident in 2004 in which he tried to fly a packed passenger jet drunk. When arrested, he had almost twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, prosecutors said.