You probably think about drunk drivers being behind the wheel of a car, truck, or mini van, but in reality drunk drivers are behind the wheel of almost any type of vehicle. From lawn mowers to boats on the water: it may be illegal to drink and drive on anything motorized, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people from doing it each year.
Unfortunately intoxicated people also get behind the wheel of other vehicles you wouldn’t normally associate with drunk driving. With commercial flight so heavily regulated, you may not consider that your pilot and his flight crew could be drunk, but that’s exactly what happened on a recent flight from Oslo, Norway. The flight with 109 passengers on it was delayed when almost all of the crew members failed breathalyzer tests.
What happens when a pilot fails a breathalyzer? To start, the passengers sit on the tarmac for a long time. Once the captain, first officer, and two flight attendants exited the plane into a waiting police car, the passengers waited 5 hours for a new crew to arrive.
Police were tipped off because of the crews behavior on the plane when the passengers were loading, and when the results of the breathalyzer came back, 4 out of 5 of the crew blew above the legal limit of .02 promille. That’s .02 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and like the USA commercial driver limit, it’s the limit set for pilots, cabin crew, air traffic controllers, and others.
Most airlines have a zero tolerance policy for drinking on the job, and the crew in Norway could see up to two years in prison for the violation.
For some, flying is scary enough, but this is one of those news topics that really makes you wonder whether the pilots manning your airplanes have been sober.