American Airlines officials have confirmed that authorities in the U.K. have arrested a crew member who was set to pilot a flight from Manchester to Philadelphia after police received reports that the aviator arrived for duty while under the influence. An investigation resulted in the flight being cancelled and the crew member being taken into custody.
Reports from Manchester Airport (MAN) indicate that an American Airlines flight crew member was arrested for allegedly being over the legal blood alcohol limit just moments before he was set to captain a flight to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) on Thursday morning. Greater Manchester Police officers say they were dispatched to investigate after receiving a complaint that the on-duty 62-year-old pilot “may have been under the influence of alcohol.”
American Airlines officials confirmed both that the crew member had been arrested and that the flight was cancelled as a result. The airline says passengers were rescheduled to their final destinations on later flights.
“Safety is our highest priority and we apologize to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans,” the Dallas/Fort Worth-based carrier told BBC News. “We are fully cooperating with local law enforcement and further questions should be referred to them.”
The incident appears to have unfolded quickly – although the pilot was arrested just before 11am local time, American Flight AA735 was originally scheduled to depart MAN for PHL at 11:05am, before being abruptly cancelled.
The arrest caps a string of embarrassing instances of pilots being accused of attempting to fly while under the influence prior to departing from U.K. airports. In October, a Japan Airlines first officer entered a guilty plea after he was found to have a BAC of 189mg, just 50 minutes prior to scheduled departure (the legal limit for a pilot is 20mg). The disgraced pilot was set to crew a JAL Boeing 777 to Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) flight before being arrested.
In January of that same year, a British Airways pilot was removed from the flight deck and taken into custody over fears that he was too intoxicated to fly an international fight scheduled to depart from London Gatwick Airport (LGW).