JetBlue pilot blows 0.17 for early morning flight
This incident occurred on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, and involves the pilot of JetBlue flight 2465 from Buffalo (BUF) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Specifically, a 52-year-old JetBlue pilot from Orlando was pulled from the cockpit shortly before departure, on a flight with 133 passengers onboard.
Here’s what happened, according to the police report:
- The pilot had missed the shuttle to the airport with the crew, and had to take a separate Uber; the crew also couldn’t get in touch with him
- The pilot needed to have a firearm checked at the security checkpoint, and that requires calling over law enforcement; the TSA and law enforcement went through that process, but agreed something seemed “off” about the pilot
- At that point law enforcement went to the plane and asked the pilot to step off the plane; this was after most passengers had already boarded
- The pilot was asked if he had any drinks that morning, and responded he didn’t; when he was asked if he had drinks the night before, he said he had five to six beers at dinner
- The pilot then failed basic field sobriety tests, and was asked to blow into a breathalyzer
- He blew a 0.174; for context, the legal limit for pilots is 0.04 (half the legal limit of operating a car), and pilots aren’t supposed to drink within eight hours of flying
The JetBlue flight ended up being delayed by around four hours as the airline found a replacement pilot. So while the flight was initially supposed to depart at 6:15AM, it ended up leaving at 10:25AM.
The pilot was taken into custody after the incident but not charged, though he could be looking at some serious time in prison. Furthermore, JetBlue has already fired the pilot.
How did the pilot get so intoxicated?
The pilots had arrived in Buffalo at 6AM on Tuesday, after working a Monday night redeye from Los Angeles. The other pilot in the cockpit said he had met up with his colleague at around 5PM the evening before at Sidelines Bar. The two had dinner and played some darts.
The one pilot left at 9:30PM, while the other pilot ended up sticking around, as “someone caught his interest” at the bar.
While in custody, the pilot was overheard telling someone on the phone that he had around 10 22-ounce beers the night before, known as “Tall Boys.” So yeah, he had 220 ounces of beer. He claims he left the bar at around 12AM.
A JetBlue pilot was acting suspiciously at the airport for an early morning flight from Buffalo. After a breathalyzer was performed, it was determined that the pilot was more than four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying. He was overheard admitting that he had 10 beers the night before.
I hope this pilot gets the help he needs, because it’s sad to endanger other people like this. While I suppose it’s always possible that this was an isolated incident, more often than not people don’t get caught the first time, so one has to wonder how often he has tried to fly over the legal limit.