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Pilots arrested at UK airport after failing breath test before transatlantic flight

The Independent logo The Independent 8/3/2019 Zamira Rahim
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Two pilots have been prevented from flying a United Airlines plane after allegedly failing breath tests at Glasgow Airport.

The men were stopped before boarding the flight to Newark, New Jersey on Saturday morning.

Both were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of drink or drugs.

The flight was scheduled for 9am but it was cancelled following the pair’s arrest.

Police Scotland can confirm that two men aged 61 and 45 years old have been arrested and remanded in custody pending a scheduled court appearance on Tuesday August 6 on suspicion of offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, section 97,” a spokesperson said.

The act covers offences where pilots are found to be intoxicated.

If found guilty under the law, the pilots could face a fine or up to two years in prison.

The limit for alcohol in the breath for pilots is 9 microgrammes per 100mm.

The US Federal Aviation Industry also has an eight-hour “bottle to throttle” rule, which bans pilots from flying within eight hours of drinking.

“This morning Police Scotland did attend before the United Airlines flight UA162, going to Newark,” a spokesperson for Glasgow Airport said.

“The flight was subsequently cancelled.”

United Airlines said on Twitter: “We regret that our flight for today from [Glasgow Airport] to [Newark Liberty International Airport], UA162, has been cancelled because of crew availability."

The pilots are not the first to be suspected of being drunk before flying.

Their arrest comes just days after a Delta pilot was arrested onboard a full plane at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, when officers smelt alcohol on his breath.

The plane had not yet left the gate.

In January, a Japanese pilot delayed five flights when he was found to be over the limit before boarding, All Nippon Airways (ANA) said.

The captain was due to serve domestic flight NH 501 from Osaka Itami in central Japan to Miyazaki, a city on the southern island of Kyushu.

During a pre-boarding inspection, the crew member of ANA Wings, an affiliate airline of ANA, tested positively for alcohol.

Additional reporting by agencies

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