United Airlines dismisses disgraced pilot - Heathrow,Travel Airport News

Airport news for Heathrow,Travel on 12/11/2009.

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This week a drunk pilot was intercepted by British police, who pulled the United Airlines pilot from a Boeing 767 aircraft at London's Heathrow airport.

It was announced by a spokesman from Scotland Yard that 51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington was taken off the plane just before take-off on Monday and has been charged with being on duty while his blood-alcohol level was over the limit.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy was quick to comment, announcing that: "the pilot has been removed from service during an investigation. United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry, and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy.”

Unfortunately, this is the third time in a little over a year that a pilot has been charged with attempting to fly a plane while intoxicated and this latest case has opened the subject up for scrutiny. This incident follows hot on the heals of last months tragedy, when Northwest Airlines pilots overshot Minneapolis by more than 100 miles, allegedly because they were using their laptops while in the air.

Before they take to the skies, the background of each pilot is inspected by the FAA for alcohol-related offenses. However, according to former National Transportation Safety Board official Barry Sweedler, little is actually done by the FAA to enforce the rules and regulations.

In a recent interview Mr Sweedler revealed that: "They rely on other people to find the bad apples. It's the guy who thinks he can get away with it that's scary. I'm sure there are pilots over the limit who are flying every day."

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