AA Pilot Arrested

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TWAnr

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Aug 19, 2002
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Update:

Prosecutor says pilot was drunk

MANCHESTER, England, Mar 19, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A pilot scheduled to fly a trans-Atlantic flight showed up to work with more than six times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, a British prosecutor said.
When American James Yates, 46, went to enter a Manchester Airport flight crew security gate in his American Airlines pilot's uniform, he couldn't find his identification security pass. Security staff said they smelled alcohol and called police, Prosecutor Martin Walsh told jurors in Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, IC Liverpool reported.

Yates, who is from Ohio, is a first officer with the airline and was one of three pilots at the 10:30 a.m. flight to Chicago with 181 passengers on board on Feb. 11, 2006, Walsh said.

Martin told jurors that once the pilot was at the police station, a doctor took his blood for testing.

"He was approaching 6 1/2 times the legal limit for flying an aircraft," Walsh said, IC Liverpool reported.

IC Liverpool reported that Yates has said he did not intend to be part of the crew that day and that he only went to work to tell his captain that he was sick and unable to fly.

FreeRealTime.com

More detailed article: Metro.co.uk - Pilot 'more than six times over the limit'
 

FA Mikey

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Wow I guess he didn't see the Captain at the hotel or on the bus, on the way to the airport. Sounds like someone's lawyer is stretching it at this point.

Like anyone will buy the intention to call in sick, because crew members often, get the uniform on and haul their butt to the airport, through security and on to the plane to tell the captain. Rather than procedure which is to call the company/crew tracking.
 

Mach85ER

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Jan 13, 2003
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Wow I guess he didn't see the Captain at the hotel or on the bus, on the way to the airport. Sounds like someone's lawyer is stretching it at this point.

Like anyone will buy the intention to call in sick, because crew members often, get the uniform on and haul their butt to the airport, through security and on to the plane to tell the captain. Rather than procedure which is to call the company/crew tracking.


There isn't any "procedure" Mikey.
 

FWAAA

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Wow I guess he didn't see the Captain at the hotel or on the bus, on the way to the airport. Sounds like someone's lawyer is stretching it at this point.

Like anyone will buy the intention to call in sick, because crew members often, get the uniform on and haul their butt to the airport, through security and on to the plane to tell the captain. Rather than procedure which is to call the company/crew tracking.

He missed the crew bus, and the captain checked on him at the hotel:

Yates had earlier missed a bus taking flight crew from a hotel to the airport. When the captain had gone to his hotel room he appeared "dishevelled" and followed the rest of the crew in a cab to the airport, the court heard.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/new...over_limit.html

He's not charged with trying to pilot an aircraft while drunk, which makes sense since he was arrested prior to getting to the airplane.
 

Wretched Wrench

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Apr 21, 2003
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I am sorry that no other cockpit crew member or the union discovered and tried to deal with this sooner. Even in the cab, if I read it correctly. Could it have been that big a secret?
 

eolesen

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If he missed the crew bus, presumably he was the only crew member in the cab. I can't really fault the rest of the crew if they hadn't come into contact with him yet.
 

Wretched Wrench

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Apr 21, 2003
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If he missed the crew bus, presumably he was the only crew member in the cab. I can't really fault the rest of the crew if they hadn't come into contact with him yet.

from the article:

"Yates had earlier missed a bus taking flight crew from a hotel to the airport. When the captain had gone to his hotel room he appeared "dishevelled" and followed the rest of the crew in a cab to the airport, the court heard."

It appears the captain saw him at the hotel after he had misses "a bus". It also appears that the crew shared a taxi.

Either way, I was speaking to an issue that covers a broader time span. I would have to think that he is likely to have shown evidence of a drinking problem before. In which case, his friends or co-workers could have tried to help him or refer him to union leaders who could perhaps influence him to get some help.

I am not shifting blame here, but just trying to make the point that we owe it to our co-workers and the company to get help for people who need it before something bad happens to them, the company or the passengers.
 

Garfield1966

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OK, I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong but from what I assume, I believe that was an incorrect conclusion.

At a blood alcohol level of over 6 times the legal limit, he damn well new he was drunk. I am sure he felt ‘just as bad’ at the hotel as he did when he got to the ATO when he said ‘he decided to call in sick’. Now I know I am only a lowly FA crew scheduler but I know for a fact that we don’t just have ‘extra FA’s’ sitting around LON waiting to take a flight back. Yes I know we can fly a 767 short if need be but they are not “extraâ€. As far as I am aware, that 767 ain’t going anywhere until a back up crew gets there. That point aside, it amazes me that people are allowed to claim what they ‘would have done’ had they been given the chance. They had the chance to do what they intended up until the point their sorry ass got caught. As far as I am concerned, the fact that he was not actually onboard and buckled in the cockpit seat when he got busted just means that he did not have the time to get away with his possible plan. Same as someone who is charged with attempted murder. Why that crime is less sever than actual murder is beyond me. As far as I am concerned, that only means the person was not bright enough to avoid being caught. The penalty should be the same IMO.

All I see when I read the article is a drunk, dressed in uniform, ready to get on the plane. We will never know what may have happened had he got on the plane and flew. The proper out come in my opinion would have been a guilty conviction and a stern warning to all the dumb asses in the future that if you plan on call in sick, you damn well better do it before you set foot on airport property and we catch you. I wonder how often he gets behind the wheel of his car drunk off his ass? I wonder how you would feel had he taken out a plane load of people or a little kid in front of school while driving? I want to know why this country keeps giving passes to drunks all the time. As far as I am concerned, if someone gets intoxicated and then proceeds to get behind the wheel (or yoke), it should be considered a premeditated act and proceeded as such. The argument that a ‘drunk does not know what they are doing’ never holds water with me. A good friend of mine once asked me if I thought I ever heard of a drunk being coned into eating a pile of sh1t. I guess they know enough not to do that huh?

Sorry, but drunks piss me off. They destroy far too many families and seem to get away with it on a regular basis.
 

Wretched Wrench

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Apr 21, 2003
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Hmmmmm.........I'm gonna agree with Garfield.

If newspaper accounts are correct, he had ample opportunity and contact with the captain to report "sick" before showing up at the airport.

Do pilots have to show up in uniform to call in sick? Most others do it over the phone.

Has Leno got hold of this yet? :(
 

FWAAA

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His acquital was one of those "technicalities" everyone hates.

He wasn't even charged with attempted flying while drunk, owing to the fact that he was arrested at the checkpoint, long before he arrived at the airplane. In recognition of this:

Yates is not charged with attempting to fly an aircraft while over the limit as he did not gain access to the plane.

He denies a single charge of carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function, that of acting as first officer, while over the limit.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/new...over_limit.html

How one can be carrying out the aviation function of acting as first officer while not yet thru security is beyond me. And, it appears, beyond the jury as well. He apparently convinced them that he wasn't acting as a first officer when he was arrested and that he had no intention of doing so. It's certainly possible he was lying.

Speaking as a former criminal prosecutor, I think the outcome in this case was correct.

If authorities suspect that a pilot is intoxicated (like this guy), they are free to follow him and see if he actually intends to fly the airplane. If he boards the airplane prior to notifying the company or other pilots that he is unfit to fly, then he's certainly guilty of attempted flying while drunk. That's what the Manchester authorities should have done. Premature arrest is the primary reason why they are unable to jail this poor soul today.

The good news is that prosecutors hate losing jury trials and no doubt have already scheduled an education session with the constables. I've had those talks when officers screw up what should have been a slam dunk conviction. Like this one. Correct outcome on the crappy facts the police gave the crown.
 

Garfield1966

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I think I understand what you are saying. We cannot go around arresting and convicting people n the basis of what we ‘think’ they were going to do. And for the most part I agree. Just because in a rage of anger I say I am going to kill (insert name here) does not mean I am guilty of murder. I guess the problem I have is that I believe in certain incidents, one can infer with reasonable certainty what the intent was. If a drunk leaves a bar and starts heading to where his car is parked can’t one infer that he intends to drive drunk? Why do we have to wait for him/her to get into the car and possible get away and kill someone? Why not nail their ass before they get into the car? For a pilot gets into uniform knowing full we he was not going to fly (why get into uniform then?) I believe one could infer that he had the intent to fly drunk. I am not a drinker so my knowledge is second hand. How many people out there who are hard drinkers know that they have had too much and surrender their keys? It seems that quite a few say “I’m not drunk. I can drive just fineâ€￾ and proceed to go home and kill someone with their car. I do not know what it takes to be 6 times the legal limit to fly after a night of drinking but that guy had some serious judgment issues. My belief, given the article, is that he had every intention of flying and if I had to guess, he had done it before. Which leads me to ask the question, how the hell could no one have known? Family, friends, co-workers? I find it very hard to believe that no one knew. At least one person knew and was covering his ass. Peoples lives are at stake. I know there is a second pilot in the cockpit, but if the sh1t hits the fan, both people might be needed to get that plane on the ground in one piece.

Personally, I think he got a gift. He should not be allowed to keep his license, he needs rehab in a big way. And the people around him need to look in the mirror really hard and realize they are part of the problem as well.
 

FWAAA

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I agree with you, Garfield. He got a huge gift here - he won't be serving up to two years in a British jail.

I agree that a reasonable person could infer from his actions that he intended to fly, despite his words to the contrary. Sadly, I think he was gonna try to get away with it. IMO, he beat a vague (and faulty) statute. This a textbook case of "not guilty does NOT equal Innocent." Like I posted above, had they followed him and waited to arrest him until the moment he boarded the 767, a conviction for the "attempted to fly while DUI" charge (the one they didn't even charge him with) would have been a walk in the park.

About the BAC level - it appears that the legal limit to drive in Britain is 0.08 (like it is most places here) and that the limit to fly is 0.02 and he was just under 0.13 (almost 6.5 times the limit). Nowhere near lethal, of course, but serious bad judgment. He either became very intoxicated the evening before or was drinking steadily all night.

The legal issue in this case was (as it always is) "did the prosecution prove all of the elements of the charged offense?" To answer that, you've gotta get the words of the statute in front of you and compare. That's what law clerks (law school students) do every day at prosecutors' offices all over the USA when they help draft the charges after they review the police reports and statements.

Juries get to do the same thing. As such, it seems reasonable to conclude that he was not "carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function, that of acting as first officer" when he was arrested. He wasn't in a crew room checking the weather or doing any of the other pre-flight planning activities. He was fumbling for his ID at the crew security checkpoint. Hardly an ancillary activity for which he should be jailed, IMO.

I'm no apologist for drunk drivers or drunk pilots. I'm just pleased when courts and juries don't gloss over their duties and actually hold the criminal system to theirs.