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Pilot Arrested For Intoxication at CDG

UAL PIC BAC Nearly 3x Legal Limit

A French court has sentenced a 63-year-old United Airlines pilot to a six-month suspended sentence and revoked his flight privileges for one-year after he allegedly reported for flight duty in a state of intoxication.

Referred to in reports as simply “Henry W.,” the aviator arrived at Paris, France’s Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport to serve as the Pilot In Command (PIC) of a Boeing 777 slated to operate as United Airlines Flight UA331 to Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD).

CDG Airport security personnel, however, observed the pilot to be glassy-eyed and staggering, slightly, as he attempted to board the aircraft at approximately 15:00 Central European Summer Time (Zulu +2) on Sunday, 23 July 2023.

The aviator was subsequently subjected to two blood-alcohol tests which revealed his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to be 0.059-percent and 0.056-percent respectively. French aviation regulations limit pilots’ BAC to a maximum of 0.02-percent. Ergo, Henry W. turned up for work with a BAC nearly three-times greater than the legal limit.

As a metric, Blood Alcohol Concentration refers to the percent of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) present in a person's bloodstream. A BAC of 0.10-percent indicates an individual's total blood-volume contains one-part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood. In the U.S. the BAC limit for pilots is 0.04-percent; for motorists it’s 0.08-percent.

United Airlines set forth in a statement: “The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority. We hold all our employees to the highest standards and have a strict no-tolerance policy for alcohol. This employee was immediately removed from service and we are fully cooperating with local authorities.”

When questioned, Henry W. stated he’d consumed only two glasses of wine the night prior to the flight. Possessed of empirical evidence to the contrary, French police arrested and jailed him—pleas of innocence notwithstanding.

The presiding judge at Henry W.’s court proceeding expressed doubts vis-à-vis the defendant’s account of how much and when he’d drunk, stating: “there could have been a plane crash; you put 267 passengers at risk.”

In addition to the aforementioned six-month suspended sentence and year-long revocation of his flying privileges, Henry W. was assessed a €4,500 ($4,961) fine. Moreover, he will likely face additional asperities—legal and professional alike—upon returning to the U.S.

FMI: www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/alcohol.pdf 


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