Pilot Suspected of Being Drunk - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Pilot Suspected of Being Drunk

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Nicole Ebat

OMAHA (KPTM)- The FAA is investigating a pilot because of concerns about the condition he was in before reporting for the flight.

He's suspected of trying to board the plane drunk.

Flight 1894 from Omaha to Milwaukee was supposed to depart around 6:00 Thursday morning but it was delayed two hours. There were 29 passengers and three crew members onboard.

Frontier Airlines says they are investigating the allegations of impairment but that this is a personnel issue. The pilot works for Chautaqua Airlines, but flies Frontier planes under an operating agreement with the companies.

"We can't and won't comment on specifics other than to say that because of concern for the condition of the crew member, that crew member was replaced. Frontier and Chautauqua have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol that has resulted in a 100% safety record for both carriers."

The FAA says pilots are prohibited from flying or operating any safety measures within eight hours of consuming alcohol. They also can't have a BAC over .04--that's about two beers for the average sized man.

Each pilot does have to take a proficiency and medical exam on a regular basis.

But an Omaha aviation expert says pilots do a good job of self-policing themselves and each other.

"It doesn't represent all the pilots, it doesn't represent many at all period. The fact that it is pretty rare when it happens I think speaks to the integrity of the pilot community," said Dr. David Byers with the University of Nebraska's Aviation Institute.

He says the image of pilots having wild parties is one of yesteryear.

"We just don't go out there and go drinking all night and then try to fly in the morning. There was an old school approach to that, but that's long gone," he said.

An aviation student ran KPTM through everything pilots have to keep in mind while flying a plane.

He says a lot of the data comes from needles and graphs--interpreting all the information requires a clear head, he says.

"I can't imagine trying to do all of that while intoxicated," said Zach Lundeen.

Frontier airlines says "appropriate action" will be taken once they have finished their investigation.

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