A JetBlue pilot was removed from a cockpit minutes before take-off. The pilot was found to have a blood alcohol content more than four times the legal flying limit, reports stated. The incident happened at an upstate New York airport Wednesday.
A Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority spokesperson told The Buffalo News that James Clifton, 52, took a breathalyzer test after police escorted him off the Fort Lauderdale bound plane departing from Buffalo Niagara Airport.
The report said that the Transportation Security Administration agents notified cops after the Orlando, Fla. resident allegedly seemed drunk while going through security before boarding the plane.
According to a partially redacted NFTA police report obtained by The Post, the pilot, carrying a registered firearm with him through the gates, “seemed off” to TSA workers.
The police report stated that Clifton admitted to having as many as “7-8” drinks at a bar the previous night after he denied drinking the morning before the flight.
In a statement to police by a coworker who had dinner with the pilot, Clifton did not answer his phone or show up Wednesday morning when a shuttle arrived at their hotel to take them to the airport that morning, said the police report. According to the statement cited in the report, the pilot later took an Uber to the airport.
Per WIVB-TV, Clifton’s blood alcohol content was 0.17 percent, which is twice the 0.08-percent limit allowed to operate a car and four times the 0.04-percent limit placed on pilots under the Federal Aviation Administration rules.
According to the flight tracking site FlightAware.com, there was a four-hour and ten-minute delay for the flight, which was initially scheduled to leave Buffalo at 6:15 a.m., according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.com. According to the site, the plane arrived in Florida at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday.
The pilot was not charged with any local violations. Federal authorities did receive a report about the incident, said the police report. The pilot has been removed from his duties, said a JetBlue spokesperson.
“The safety of JetBlue’s customers and crewmembers is our first priority,” spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said in an email to The Post. “We adhere to all [Department of Transportation] rules and requirements concerning alcohol at all times and have a very strict zero tolerance internal alcohol policy.
“We are aware of the incident that occurred this morning in Buffalo and are cooperating fully with law enforcement,” the spokesperson added. “We are also conducting our own internal investigation.”
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