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Pilot Drinking—would You Say Anything?  
User currently offlineMarkBoston From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 8992 times:

The recent arrest of a United Airlines pilot at Heathrow for attempting to drink and fly has got me thinking about an experience I had last year.

I was in the restaurant at an airport hotel having dinner. Two men were seated at the table next to me. It was clear from their conversation that they were pilots for a major airline and had landed at the airport a couple of hours earlier. They discussed ATC issues relating to their approach in to the airport that night. They discussed union contract issues for some time and compared their contract with another airline. They discussed their flight out early the next morning (about 10 hours later).

During dinner the older of the two men had two large glasses of beer. The younger man did not say anything and drank mineral water.

I was quite shocked to see the older man drinking and thought about calling the airline to report what I saw. In the end I did not say anything.

What would you do?

80 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineTheginge From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 1132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 8993 times:

Where you heard about the flight out in 10 hours did they say they were actually flying?!?!?

You can't jump to conclusions from what you saw!


User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8970 times:

The FAA rule is 8 hours. 2 beers is not going to make you drunk 10 hours later.

User currently offlineOkie73 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 446 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8954 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
They discussed union contract issues for some time and compared their contract with another airline.

The rule for the FAA is 8 hours. Personally I don't see anything wrong with 2 large glasses of beer with dinner, 10 hours before the next days flight.


User currently offlineFlexo From St. Helena, joined Mar 2007, 406 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8952 times:

No big deal, two glasses of beer are nothing to worry about.

User currently offlineVikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9942 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8930 times:
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Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
What would you do?

In the situation you described? Absolutely nothing.



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlineCasInterest From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4588 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8919 times:

I thought the" dry before fly" rule was 24 hours?

If it is only 8, then these 2 "23" oz ? beers are the possible equivelent of almost 4 12 oz cans, which would easily be out of the system prior to flight time.



Older than I just was ,and younger than I will soo be.
User currently offlineAirbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4268 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8897 times:

No problem. Pilots is drinking everywhere, at all major crew stations worldwide. Crew come together in bars well known by the various airline crew and staff, they chat, they eat, they drink. That's their life.
Imaging that they are away from home for longer periods, being alone in hotel rooms and at airports, or in the plane. Everytime again, mostly with different crew/collegues.
Of course it's a common thing that people earlier grab a beer (or two). No big deal.
As long as they understand their job and finish drinking ontime. And I know, most of the crew know very well about their responsibilities.



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineCrimsonNL From Netherlands, joined Dec 2007, 1861 posts, RR: 42
Reply 8, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8884 times:
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I wouldn't be concerned as well, unless you hear them talking about their upcoming flight. I trust aircrews that they handle drinking responsibly (i.e. Not Drinking pre-flight)


Nothing's worse then flying the same registration twice, except flying it 4 times..
User currently offlineBoeing767mech From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1026 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 8659 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
I was quite shocked to see the older man drinking and thought about calling the airline to report what I saw. In the end I did not say anything.

What would you do?

Ask him if he would buy me one!!! 8 hours bottle to throttle per what I have read from the FAA, so I don't see anything wrong with it.

David



Never under-estimate the predictably of stupidty
User currently offlineEDICHC From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 8576 times:

In the context you describe, the answer would be no....it's not a problem. 2 pints of normal strength beer = 4 units of alcohol. As a rule of thumb it takes the average male about 1 hour to metabolise and excrete each unit of alcohol from the moment consumption ceases, If their next flight was 10 hours later 5 pints would leave him at risk of showing some alcohol if breathylised.

Having said that I have seen some really drunken aircrew parties in hotels and if I thought any of these were flying the following morning I would certainly report it...hell they might be operating my flight! As it happens the occasions I did witness involved crews on a longer stop-over.


User currently offlineFLY2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 8568 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):

I was in the restaurant at an airport hotel having dinner. Two men were seated at the table next to me. It was clear from their conversation that they were pilots for a major airline and had landed at the airport a couple of hours earlier. They discussed ATC issues relating to their approach in to the airport that night. They discussed union contract issues for some time and compared their contract with another airline. They discussed their flight out early the next morning (about 10 hours later).

They were probably at a layover, I presume they were not in uniform. In a layover the pilots can do as they please, specially without a uniform, as long as they abide with the 8hr bottle-to-throttle rule.

Quoting Theginge (Reply 1):
You can't jump to conclusions from what you saw!

 checkmark 

Now if I saw a 4 striper climbing into the cockpit with a martini glass and clearly intoxicated, that'd be a whole different story...


User currently offlineAlexA340B777 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2008, 136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 8553 times:



Quoting CasInterest (Reply 6):
I thought the" dry before fly" rule was 24 hours?

If it is only 8, then these 2 "23" oz ? beers are the possible equivelent of almost 4 12 oz cans, which would easily be out of the system prior to flight time.

That´s what I have heard too quite a while ago from a friend who now is first officer with LH.



So far travelled to 65 countries on 5 continents on 410 flights
User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets87 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 8529 times:



Quoting CasInterest (Reply 6):
I thought the" dry before fly" rule was 24 hours?

If it is only 8, then these 2 "23" oz ? beers are the possible equivelent of almost 4 12 oz cans, which would easily be out of the system prior to flight time.

"Bottle to Throttle" is 8 hours per the FAA. Some airlines have a longer dry period, the longest I know of is 12 hours but providing the airline they work for only goes by the 8 hour rule, you're wasting your time calling and reporting anything.


User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1352 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 8509 times:



Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 2):
The FAA rule is 8 hours. 2 beers is not going to make you drunk 10 hours later.

True, but airline rules are often more strict.

I'm not saying that you should or should not have done anything, but for the sake of accuracy, the 8-hour FAA rule is only part of the story.



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineWdleiser From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 961 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8393 times:

I would honestly tell you to shove your foot up your ass and mind your own business. If I was buying rounds and rounds of shots at a club and you knew it was coming up to the 8 hour rule I wouldn't mind you letting me know what time it was. But having a beer? Really... stop being paranoid. A pilot must also be under .04BAC.

I don't mean to rage or anything. The majority of pilots know what is wrong and what is not. My friends and I are not the most responsible bunch of people as we are in college yet when we had a flight the next day we always ensured we never came close to the 8 hour rule.


User currently offlineJetJeanes From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1431 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8329 times:

Used to drinking was more predominate in the earlier days but with Tsa ,and everyone
thinking mouthwash is liquor have turned this thing into a big circus,, I used to know a guy who would get hammered get a call for a corp jet, get on o2 and sober up real quick. What is rough
is after about 20 minutes you can telll if one of the 2 or in the good old days 3, was drinking as the cockpit would begin to smell of alcohol.



i can see for 80 miles
User currently offlineAirCanada014 From Canada, joined Oct 2005, 1513 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8319 times:

yes accordingly to FAA rules you are allow to drink within 8hrs or longer but not shorter. so if you have to fly out 9hrs from now then you are ok to drink for 1hr before the limit of 8hrs.
I hope that makes sense.


User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1870 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8308 times:
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If they were in uniform they should not have been served alcohol just for the sake of appearance. DL policy is that no one in DL uniform above or below wing uniform is permitted to drink. If they were on layover (out of uniform) i dont see how that is different from any one else who goes to dinner and has a drink after work.


The only valid opinions are those based in facts
User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 8897 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8282 times:



Quoting FlyDeltaJets (Reply 18):
If they were in uniform they should not have been served alcohol just for the sake of appearance. DL policy is that no one in DL uniform above or below wing uniform is permitted to drink.

Take off the wings and any identifying marks (ID, etc.) and it's pretty hard to tell who a pilot flies for. Most people (myself included) can't tell the difference between some pilot uniforms (such as DL's Navy-style jacket, etc.) - as long as the Widget, or the Eagle, or whatever wasn't being seen, it shouldn't be a problem.

And having a beer with dinner is fine if they're within guidelines. If company policy says 8 hours (and the FAA of course says it too), then it's fine by me, especially while eating (since the food helps metabolize the alcohol).

Now, if you're having a last drink before leaving to go to the airport, that's when I'll make the phone call. But a beer with dinner is more than acceptable as long as no laws/company policies on this are broken.


User currently offlineKevi747 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 1058 posts, RR: 12
Reply 20, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8269 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
I was quite shocked to see the older man drinking and thought about calling the airline to report what I saw.

Report what? He wasn't breaking any rules. As the others have pointed out, the FAA rule is 8 hours "bottle to throttle".

Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
What would you do?

I would:

1. Get a life.
2. Mind my business.

and

3. Stop eavesdropping on the conversations of strangers.

Quoting Wdleiser (Reply 15):
I would honestly tell you to shove your foot up your ass and mind your own business. If I was buying rounds and rounds of shots at a club and you knew it was coming up to the 8 hour rule I wouldn't mind you letting me know what time it was. But having a beer? Really... stop being paranoid.

 Big grin  bouncy   checkmark   highfive   laughing   yes 



"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." --Stephen Colbert
User currently offlineIAirAllie From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8248 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Thread starter):
I was quite shocked to see the older man drinking and thought about calling the airline to report what I saw. In the end I did not say anything.

What would you do?

Nothing they didn't do anything wrong. They weren't in uniform and they weren't violating any rules. They weren't drinking excessively or acting in a way that would cast dispersion on their employer. For goodness sakes I'm a Mormon and I'm less uptight about this than you. Pilots have as much right to an adult beverage with their meals as any other professional.

Quoting CasInterest (Reply 6):
I thought the" dry before fly" rule was 24 hours?

No. 8 per FAA up to 14 depending on individual company policy.

Quoting JetJeanes (Reply 16):
get on o2 and sober up real quick

O2 does not sober one up (nor does coffee or cold air) those people were irresponsible. Only time and normal metabolic processes sober one up.


User currently offlineDavescj From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 2305 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 8181 times:



Quoting FlyDeltaJets (Reply 18):
just for the sake of appearance. DL policy is that no one in DL uniform above or below wing uniform is permitted to drink.

A friend of mine works for CO, and told me they have the same rule -- no drinking in uniform.

As to these guys, they could also be done for the month, and the next day simply getting a ride home.

As to drinking in uniform, I say one FO in the lounge in FCO drinking in uniform. He had flown in, and was on his way home -- he had finished his flying hours for the month. His company (from the UK, and no, not BA or VS) allows him to drink.

As much scrutiny as people are put under who fly, who in their right mind would drink and fly? It costs not only the fine, but your job as well.

Dave



Can I have a mojito on this flight?
User currently offlineLive2fly83 From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 151 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8162 times:

if they werent in uniform prob nothing

bottomline, I dont want my pilots drinking anything
(and most customers and the FAA would agree)

if they cant wait til their off-day then they have a more serious isue at hand



"come fly with me"
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4000 posts, RR: 34
Reply 24, posted (5 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8137 times:

We once had an incident with a Captain.
When he arrived dead heading at 1800 the night before, he had been drinking and made a nuisance of himself with the ground staff, so they remembered him. Bad move
In the morning at 0800 when he was operating, the gate staff could smell alcohol and called the police. He was over the limit and did not fly.
The airport staff got so much stick from the airlines crew for the next few months. I could not beleive it. Nearly all the airlines crew were anti as they had stopped the Capt from flying. Doesn't make sense to me. The FO on the flight was also in trouble because he knew about it and said nothing. Nasty position to be in.
But be wary. FAA might allow you drunk 8 hrs before departure, but in Scandinavia the rule is that you must be able to pass a breathalyser 8 hrs before departure. And the drinking limit here is 0.2 units, not 0.8 like in a lot of countries.
I was talking to a capt last week, and he said nearly all crew have stopped drinking on layovers here, its not worth it.


25 EDICHC : Not necessarily, the pattern of alcohol consumption that is most harmful is the week-end (or in the case of shift workers like airline employees - th
26 HAWK21M : Out here its a 12 hrs sober requirement. However on the topic.I guess you'd never really know if their flight was 10hrs later. Out here an alcosensor
27 RussianJet : *GASP* Two beers? I mean, two WHOLE beers? Oh my God, I bet he was crawling out of the restaurant on his hands and knees, totally incapable! Good Lor
28 Theginge : The rules are very different now to what they were many years ago. A pilot who started flying in the 70's told me about how they used to get a Gin and
29 Post contains links GBan : Maybe those guys: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/115499/drunk_airline_pilots/ Do you recognize them?
30 Dispatchguy : Most ALL US carriers have a 12-hour bottle to checkin requirement, which is much stricter than the FAA requirement. For those crewmembers, since it is
31 Soon7x7 : The effects of todays prescription drugs effects on people, especially crew, in general concerns me more.No 8 hour rule for that. Not all pilots repor
32 PhilSquares : Having worked as a Chief Pilot, I handled things a little different. If there was even a hint of questionable sobriety, the first thing I did was get
33 Lowrider : So long as they show up fit to fly, what your pilots do one their own time is none of your business. There are very few prescrption drugs that are ap
34 Soon7x7 : Like I said...many pilots Don't report their ISSUES to their FAA doc's...(Family Doctor VS FAA Doctor). As far as the FAA in concerned, they don't ev
35 PhilSquares : Care to back up your allegations with some facts? I think most professional pilots have a good relationship with their AME and will report things to
36 Kimberlyrj : As a FA I would alart the other pilot and inform security if we were still at an airport... If in the sky I would inform the other pilot and once we
37 Soon7x7 : Many of my firends are pilots...I've been flying myself for 27 years...been p tested as well. Certainly "backing up with facts" is sort of a silly qu
38 PhilSquares : And I never said it was! What I was referring to was your encompassing statement. The examples you cite don't fall under the random drug/alcohol test
39 YYZYYT : and draft beer is never watered, either. I think that a glass of wine (or beer, depending) with dinner is a necessity, and I will rarely go without .
40 BriGuyinHou : I have this good friend of mine that I call Titicaca because he worries about everything and especially things that aren't his concern or business. Yo
41 Soon7x7 : My two examples involved part 135 operators....As far as my personal observation of 121 operators...I used to frequent a cozy little place out in Ari
42 Cumulus : Assuming it was in the region of 2 pints, that's 4 units of alcohol. On average, it takes one hour for your metabolism to process 1 unit, therefore i
43 IAirAllie : Give me a break. Alcohol is a legal substance. Many adults enjoy an alcoholic drink with dinner. They have as much right to it as anyone else when th
44 JOEYCAPPS : In all honesty, each beer takes you about an hour to pass through your system. Two beers = 2 hours. What matters it that the pilots were out of unifor
45 ChiGB1973 : While 8 hours is the FAA rule, the airline's rules are probably more strict. TZ was 12 hours. The company the supplies our helicopters/pilots is 24 ho
46 777DAD : You've never drank a beer or two after work to unwind? Nothing wrong with that.
47 413X3 : I am trying to pinpoint when we as a society became such snitches. More than willing to eavesdrop on our fellow citizens, and rat them out. Pretending
48 Soon7x7 : If they were still in bed then they had long missed their departures which would then prove they were drinking too much...look, I know what I'm talki
49 SNA752 : Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. It seems like everyone is always worried about someone else nowadays because...why? is it more interesting? is it a
50 TN757Flyer : The issue would be, how does one know what a pilot may or may not be prescribed for, and whether he is taking it, approved or not? If one has a presc
51 413X3 : I would be more worried about what my fellow car drivers are under the influence of, considering I have a better chance of being injured and killed in
52 Lowrider : I might be familiar with the idea. But most AME's will allow you to call them anonymously and ask simple questions, such as "Is it ok to take Malox a
53 Rwy04LGA : And they could get Dean Martin to play the part.
54 SXDFC : I thought he only does his drinking in the evening time (it came from lyrics from a song he made loooong before I was born) One thing people should r
55 Soon7x7 : Roger that and Roger that!
56 RussianJet : Although in this case (as I already indicated earlier) I think the OP's concerns are totally unfounded, stating that there is a problem with drunk dr
57 Jawed : uhm yes. if a pilot has 10 beers, even if it's 10 hours away from the flight, i would be very concerned.
58 Soon7x7 : You echoed my sentiment...Precisely my point...j
59 IAirAllie : With all due respect that doesn't make you an expert. Unless they told you what their departure time was you don't actually know. Crews on layovers a
60 Luv2cattlecall : Works great except for the following: Blue button up shirt = B6 (or Maytag man) Black shirt that you'd wear to go clubbing = VX Park Ranger Outfit =e
61 CosmicCruiser : Here we aren't allowed a second chance . You bust a drug/alcohol test and you're history. If you approach the co. and ask for help (counciling, treatm
62 PhilSquares : Generally, the pax were told there was a crew staffing problem and they would be on their way as soon as possible. To be honest, it's a very rare occ
63 CosmicCruiser : Well PhilSquares you know that a little knowledge can be dangerous and this is a perfect example. Someone knows a rule but nothing about the day to d
64 413X3 : I think the actions by the OP, plus the topic on the pilot flipping the bird to a photographer, show that some people idolize the pilots, and any of t
65 IAirAllie : Sick crewmember or they are short a crewmember and bringing in a replacement.
66 Shamrock104 : My sentiments exactly.
67 Lowrider : Anyone who thinks this a good idea should consider the case of the Cape Air pilot who was sentenced to jail for lying on his medical. They might get
68 DTWAGENT : Only time I would say anything, Is if they where eating and drinking at the airport and then go right to the gate and get on the plane. Then I would s
69 IAirAllie : The rules can be more restrictive than the FAA at individual carriers but none of the American ones have a 24 hour rule. 14 hours was the most restri
70 Wukka : How old is this rule? If it's got a few good years under its' belt, then I have a load of people to tattle on. Whatever. No shit. Best advice in this
71 DingDong : Certainly. I would probably politely inquire as to their preferred beverage, and then offer to buy them one. Of course, judgement depends on circumst
72 Live2fly83 : beside the point, if one can not go without alcohol they may need to evalualte their reasons for consuming it when I first began in the aviation sect
73 Live2fly83 : when I landed by first aviation job in '03 that was one of the first things DL mentioned for above AND below wing
74 DingDong : If you might look at it in a different light: They are grown adults, and have put years into building their careers -- they have much invested in it
75 LTBEWR : I would think that the cutbacks at airlines from the oil price jumps earlier this year and general econonomic conditions would make all employees take
76 IAirAllie : 2 beers with dinner 10 or more hours before you have to work the next day is not going to result in some sort of calamity or a hangover. Again 2 beer
77 TWFirst : Personally, I would mind my own beeswax and not pretend I'm the NSA. Responsible alcoholic consumption is not a crime.
78 RussianJet : An astonishingly simple and astute observation. Sums the whole issue up nicely.
79 Wukka : Interesting that you bring up that specific time frame. It was right about then that I was regularly slurping down beer with those above and below th
80 IAirAllie : That is not full uniform. If they have removed any identifying markers like the jacket with stripes name tags and emblems then they are just guys in
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