The career of distinguished Amercian Airlines pilot Joseph Crites came to a screeching halt last May, when he was removed from his plane at Heathrow airport, a mere 15 minutes before departure, when local police smelled alcohol on his breath.
Staff on his Chicago bound flight had alerted the police, and an initial breathalyzer test showed a 37mg/100ml reading – when the maximum reading for being allowed to fly a plane is 9mg/100ml.
On Friday, Mr. Crites was sentenced in a UK court, and was handed a £1,500 fine, plus £300 in court costs. The normal sentence is jail time, but Mr. Crites had a spotless record, and the court received glowing references from his colleagues.
During the trial, the pilot put the blame on the “unknown European beers” he had consumed, and claimed they must have been “stronger than he normally drinks”.
He had his last drink before arriving back at his hotel at 11:30pm the night before, and it takes quite a decent amount of booze to reach his blood alcohol levels.
It is very sad to see such an impressive career come to an end over a couple of beers, but someone with his experience should have known better.