Calgary police allege pilot blew three times legal alcohol limit
Calgary Police allege that a Sunwing Airlines pilot had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit when his co-pilot found him unconscious in the cockpit of a Cancun-bound plane.
Police say the pilot boarded the aircraft around 7 a.m. Saturday morning in Calgary for a flight to Mexico with stops in Regina and Winnipeg. Before the plane departed, members of the flight crew noticed that the pilot was “behaving oddly” before he passed out inside the cockpit, police allege.
The pilot was eventually escorted out of the plane and taken into custody. When police tested him for alcohol about two hours later, he blew well over the legal limit, according to Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey.
“To be more than three times the legal limit, that’s a lot of booze,” Stacey told reporters at a Saturday press conference. “I’m not surprised he got caught before the plane left the terminal.”
The 37-year-old male pilot was the flight’s captain and is originally from Slovakia, Stacey confirmed. Police said they won’t release the captain’s name until he has seen a justice of the peace.
He has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while impaired and having care and control of an aircraft over .08 blood-alcohol content.
Stacey called the incident “an anomaly” and said the incident has “very significant potential to cause significant harm” to the 99 passengers and five other crew members on board the flight. He credited “checks and balances” in place for helping prevent the flight from taking off.
Transport Canada has been notified of the incident and is conducting its own investigation, which Stacey says may lead to additional charges.
“He won’t be flying anytime soon,” Stacey said.
A Sunwing spokesperson confirmed in a statement that several crew members, including the first officer, determined that the captain was “unfit to fly” and “reported this accordingly.”
“We are very appreciative of our crew’s diligence in handling this very unfortunate matter,” said spokesperson Jacqueline Grossman.
“Sunwing Airlines has a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption within 12 hours of duty and any crew member suspected of violating this policy would be removed from duty pending an investigation, ” Grossman added.
The passengers on the flight have since departed for Cancun after a “minimal delay,” Sunwing said.