Air Transat flight arrives after pilots arrested
A Toronto-bound flight from Scotland landed in Toronto Tuesday afternoon, following a 22-hour delay after the two pilots set to fly the plane were arrested on suspicion of being drunk in the cockpit.
The Air Transat flight was scheduled to take off from Glasgow at 1 p.m. on Monday, but passengers were significantly delayed after the two pilots were arrested and charged with "being impaired through alcohol."
The flight landed at Pearson International Airport shortly after 12 p.m. on Tuesday.
Air Transat says it is aware of the arrest and will await the results of the investigation before commenting further.
"The safety of our crews and passengers is, and will remain, a top priority at Air Transat," the company said in a statement.
The pilots have been identified as Jean-Francois Perreault, 39, and 37-year-old Imran Zafar Syed. Both pilots list their addresses in Ontario.
The two were charged under the Railway and Transportation Act. They appeared in a Glasgow court on Tuesday and were remanded in custody.
Transport Canada said in a statement to CTV News that it is “currently reviewing the pilots’ records and Air Transat’s procedures and protocols.”
“As more information becomes available, the department will not hesitate to take enforcement action, including issuing fines and revoking licenses if appropriate,” the statement said.
“Scottish authorities are investigating and a judicial decision is expected soon,” Transport Canada added. “We must await the outcome of the judicial process before considering our next steps.”
In Canada, it is a criminal offence for a flight crew to work within eight hours of consuming alcohol or while under the influence.
"It's amazing that they got that far before they were indeed caught," Kyle Bailey, a pilot and airline analyst, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. He said pilots typically encounter 25-30 passengers and members of the crew before they enter the cockpit, so it's no surprise that someone took note of their behaviour.
"If they are in fact found guilty, they're pretty much blacklisted and their career is over," Bailey said.
"Pilots are true professionals, and it's the one rule that should not be broken," aviation analyst Phyl Durdey told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.
"The crew will monitor each other," Durdey said. "It's their responsibility to operate the aircraft safely."
Durdey said, if the pilots are found guilty, they can face "severe consequences."
He pointed to a case of an American pilot who was handed a sentence of five years behind bars following a drunk flying conviction.
TV personalities Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister, who were among the passengers scheduled on the flight with the accused pilots, said they were happy to be home upon landing in Toronto.
"It could have been so much worse. We could have been talking about something completely different," Ryan told reporters after disembarking the plane. "If two people who are drunk are in charge of a bloody airplane, flying over the Atlantic… we are really glad we're able to get back safely."
McAllister said they never actually got onto the plane on Monday, and most passengers were waiting in the lounge when the pilots were taken off the aircraft.
He said the passengers were told the delay was due to an "operational issue" and it wasn't until Tuesday morning that he learned about the arrests.
With a report from CTV Toronto