Fired pilots plead innocent to flying plane under influence of alcohol
Fired pilots plead innocent to flying plane under influence of alcohol
July 22, 2002 Posted: 1:28 PM EDT (1728 GMT)
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Two fired America West pilots formally entered pleas of not guilty Monday to charges of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol.
The two men, pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, were represented by their attorneys and did not appear for the brief hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Richard Margolius.
The two had filed paperwork last week indicating they would plead not guilty to the charges.
They will be required to attend a hearing August 1 when the prosecutor in the case, Assistant State Attorney Ronald Ramsingh, said he will seek to have the bond of the two men revoked because they left Florida.
They had been released on $7,000 bond each and returned to America West's home base in Arizona after being arrested July 1, when a screener complained the two were drinking.
An attorney described their leaving the state as a mix-up, saying the two men went home to Arizona after being cleared to do so by their bail bondman and did not intend to violate any court orders.
On August 5, another hearing will be held to set a trial date. William Pearson, the attorney for Cloyd, said the defense team may consider a plea deal in the future, but added it depends solely on what offer the prosecutor might make.
No offer of a deal has been made or discussed, he said. Pearson said the men want to get their pilot's licenses and jobs back.
America West has a no-tolerance policy that does not allow any alcohol use by pilots within 12 hours of a flight. The airline fired the two pilots a day after they failed Breathalyzer tests and charges were filed against them.
The two pilots were in uniform and scheduled to fly America West Flight 556 from Miami to Phoenix the night of July 1. A screener stopped the two as they attempted to carry cups of beverages through a metal detector. The screener called police, who said the plane had taxied away from the terminal when they arrived.
The plane was ordered back and tests showed Cloyd had a blood-alcohol level of .091 and Hughes had a .084, police said. The legal limit for operating a vehicle in Florida is .08.
Cloyd had worked for America West since 1990. Hughes had worked for the airline since January 1999.
An aviation safe inspector, Scott Petagna, was in the courtroom during the hearing. He said he was there simply to observe the case.
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Are these guys joking? I can't believe that they would plead not-guilty to these charges. They have to realise that they are not driving a car or even a bus but a 200 seat airliner. There are other people's lives at risk if they put the safety of the aircraft in jeapordy through abuse of alcohol.
Are you joking?
Why would anyone ever go into a courtroom and plead guilty without a deal?
This was not a proud moment for these two fellows, but they were also not falling down drunk nor were there any victims.
Had the plane been allowed to continue, I’d give it a million to one odds that all would have ended well and nobody would have been the wiser. It was an Airbus for Pete’s sake, how hard is it to push a couple of buttons?
Chances are the state will prove their case and they will both have to find another line of work. But I agree with them to make the prosecution do their jobs.
The only information any of us have seen has been from the news media, and we all know that they never get the facts mixed up don't we?
I do not condone drinking and flying. I also don’t like to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Many of you would probably be shocked if you only knew what the cockpit crew had been up to prior to departure on some of the flights you have been aboard. I personally would prefer to have a pilot that has blown a .091 at the controls than to have one flying that had just gotten into a knock down drag out with his wife and was temporarily mentally challenged from that situation.
Actually you'd be surprised at what "dosen't" happen before a crew member checks in for a trip.
Not these days. With the mandatory random alcohol and drug testing, it's just not worth our careers. I've never been much of a drinker anyway, (Shush Chicken!) but it's been years since I have a had a drink while on a layover and even then I have always abided by the 12 hour rule. Always!. Even layovers as long as 30 hours or longer. It's just not worth the hassle or worry!
For all intents and purposes, they already flushed their careers down the proverbial terlet. The FAA's already yanked the two pilots' licenses. And knowing how glacial government bureaucracy can be when it always feels in the right, it'll be d*mn near impossible to get 'em back.
So, instead of flying to strange and exotic destinatios, they'll be relegated to working pumping gas or the overnight shift at the local convenience store! Major league letdown.
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Are YOU crazy? I don't care what you condone, there is no excuse for piloting under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.84. Whether or not the chances that the plane will land safely are meaningless. If the airlines, FAA, and the court show that this behavior is acceptable, we'll have drunk pilots all over the place.
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The A319 they were piloting was a 124-seat airliner not a "200 seater".
You may have missed my point a little. I have also worked up front in the industry and in my comment regarding "what happens before the flight" I was meaning that alcohol is not a problem within the business and that on many occasions I have witnessed crew members (myself included) whom have showed up for a flight after a long sleepless night for whatever reason or visibly stressed after a confrontation with a spouse or an ex, or while in the midst of dealing with some other serious personal problems.
Fatigue and stress are much more rampant and just as dangerous as alcohol.
You are just an idiot!
It was .084 not .84 that the Co-pilot blew (as reported on the news).
I never said that drinking and flying are “acceptable” as you put it! I only used a few statements to put matters into proper perspective.
First off, these guys have been found guilty of nothing to this point. And some of you morons want to conduct a public execution with only hearsay evidence.