Reminiscient of the America West incident in August of last year, an Aloha Airlines first officer was barred from boarding an aircraft which he was scheduled to fly from Oakland, CA to Hawaii. See AP Article. The pilot allegedly blew a .182 on the breathalyzer, well beyond the state legal limit of .08 and the FAA limit of .04. The pilot was then charged with intent to operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol.
Hopefully this won’t become a TSA issue. The current system did its job and identified and detained the pilot before he could put passengers at risk. However, if the TSA decides to broaden its reach, I suppose the TSA could decide they need to set up separate “pilot” lines for screening. Then, not only will all metal objects and shoes have to be removed, but the crew would also have to pass a breathalyzer test. That would make about as much sense as taking off your shoes.
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t provide any further information regarding the pilot’s activities in the preceding 12-24 hours, other than at some point consuming sufficient alcohol to result in the excessive BAC reading prior to flight. Thus, we don’t know whether this was an example of excessive drinking the night before where alcohol still remained in his system, or if the pilot was actually drinking immediately prior to his flight. I am sure when this information is disclosed we will have a better idea of how/why this continues to be an issue for some pilots.
Not sure what would possess a pilot to risk his or her career in this manner, unless perhaps a drinking problem is present. Either way, this definitely qualifies in my book as another “stupid pilot trick”.