By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — AirTran is figuring out what to do with a pilot who showed up to work after drinking.

Police arrested the pilot Saturday before a 5:45 a.m. AirTran flight at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International took off for Milwaukee, Wis.

“There was an AirTran pilot who was going through the security checkpoint and a TSA agent thought he smelled alcohol on the pilot’s breath so they contacted airport police,” said Pat Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

The pilot was already on the plane when Airport Police found him. They gave him a preliminary breathalyzer test and registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.05, slightly above the legal limit for pilots which is 0.04. The legal limit for drivers in Minnesota is 0.08.

“If somebody has been drinking, and they’re beyond the limit, they shouldn’t be flying an airplane. So that’s what we’re trying to determine through additional testing is whether or not this person was above the limit,” Hogan said.

It could take another month for the additional tests, which are being done at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to come back AirTran says it is working with local officials to determine legal action against the pilot.

“That’s what we’re trying to determine at this point, through additional testing , is whether or not this person was, in fact, above the limit,” Hogan said.

No charges have been filed, but AirTran said the pilot won’t be flying while the incident is investigated.

Pilots in the past have gone to prison for alcohol-related offenses, including two pilots who were legally drunk when they showed up to work to fly an America West jet in Florida.

The Federal Aviation Administration said 11 pilots violated federal regulations for alcohol in 2009.

It could be weeks, perhaps months, till it’s known whether the pilot arrested Saturday violated federal laws. The pilot’s name and other details involving the case will not be made public under the investigation is over.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports

Comments (47)
  1. Duh! says:

    The airline doesn’t know what to do with him?


    Have him announce that he’s seeking the GOP endorsement for President!!

    1. Jim says:

      I don’t know if your comment is consistent with MN history. He should clearly run to be MN next DFL Governor, when Dayton falls off the wagon again. Unfortunately, they don’t mention any history of mental illness but we can hope can’t we?

      1. Joe Walsh says:

        Put that in your pipe…

        1. Joe Walsh says:

          Buy the way, give the politics a break for the day. Look outside. Enjoy our State!
          Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dieing! See you on the Happy Trail…

    2. Sarah says:

      The Pilot reminds me of someone….
      Lets see… Drunk….driving… left a young woman in the river…
      never called the police until the next day…

      Oh ya… big fat liberal!! What was I thinking… Ted!

      1. eastside_evil says:

        big fat liberal?

        Sarah, what a disappointing comment to make. Are you a rabid republican who uses every situation in life as a reason to cast disparaging comments against fellow citizens?

        Tsk, Tsk, Tsk

        1. Sarah says:

          truth hurts!!
          Yes, he was fat, it’s true… He’s brings up health care… well, he should have started by looking in the mirror.

          He was drunk.. He left a woman to die… that’s true… today he would have been in prison… but he’s a Kennedy.. it’s true..

          So no, I don’t feel sorry… Get REAL!!

          1. Mike says:

            Big – Yes
            Fat – Yes
            Liberal – Yes
            All true

            1. Debbie says:

              Agreed with Sarah & mike!!!!!!!!

          2. dphilips says:

            You Minnesotans are a bunch of hillbillies

            1. Sam says:

              a drunk is more of a hillbilly…

          3. Thomas Schneider says:

            I like your way of thinking Sarah. By chance would your last name be Palin, one can only hope.

  2. steve h says:

    well Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,,,,,,, give em a few more drinks,, make dame sure he,s a V I P >>>> Very Intoxicated Piolet

    1. Thomas Schneider says:

      I will even buy him the drinks if he takes obama on a plane ride. God, I love being a Conservative.

  3. chinwhiskers says:

    DFL Pilot’s Union ?

  4. Al says:

    Northwest I mean Delta is hiring

    1. Trent says:

      No we’re not actually…

  5. JackieM says:

    What? They don’t have protocal for this? Umm… fire his ass!

    1. Thomas Schneider says:

      This is supposed to be a free country. Allow the man a slight libation once in awhile. He was flying to Wisconsin, the home of the breweries. I will ride with him anytime.

  6. Bob Ross says:

    Lucky security smelled him…God forbid he flew and there was a problem…Don’t we have enough trouble finding terrorists and don’t need idiots like this…FIRE HIS A–Bob R

  7. Mouth Wash says:

    I’m sure it was that the pilot “accidently” swallowed some mouth wash after looking at the clock while getting ready and realizing that time was short.

  8. Robert says:

    if i showed up at work drunk, I would be placed on a warning! And if it happened again, fired! This is saying something about AirTran that they don’t know what to do with him? But then I guess since Airtran has been bought out by Southwest,and will eventually no longer exist by the end of year, why should they be concerned.

    1. eastside_evil says:

      Technically .05 is not drunk; it’s over the legal limit to fly. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.

  9. Chrissy says:

    OMG My parents were supposed to take a flight out on AirTran this morning at 11:50 and their flight was cancelled because of this stupid incident. What a freakin’ idiot! Now my parents are inconvenienced because of this imbecile’s irresponsibility. Does anybody know if my parents can get some kind of discount or something? I’m so angered by this!

  10. Chrissy says:

    Oops, I read the story incorrectly. My mom called me to tell me their flight was cancelled and she heard about the story of the pilot showing up to work drunk. I guess she got it mixed up. But that doesn’t matter. Their flight was cancelled with no explanation. I don’t recommend AirTran.

  11. Chubby Chuck says:

    Why is the legal limit so high? If you get a FWI (flying while intoxicated) does it go on your driving record? Its not a motor vehicle, but it is even a higher level of irresponsibility, literally.

  12. Victim Du Jour says:

    It’s like “Minnesota Nice” is turning into “Minnesota Tattle Tale”

    It can be a tourist trap “Explore the 10,000 things you can get in trouble for”

    Joe Maur can sign the part of what happens to all his stuff if he gets a married or a divorce in the TV ad.

    1. Victim Du Jour says:

      Joe Maur can *sing

  13. Common Sense says:

    Chrissy – Stfu please….

  14. Charlie Severson says:

    Um…fire him…???

  15. Zed says:

    .04? I think that is higher than a commercial driver… What is that all about?

    1. Zed says:

      Sorry…same as CDL…But still….

  16. hung over says:

    We all know you can drink heavy the night before and wake up still feeling a little light headed/fuzzy when it is time to go to work. We have all done it. I am sure he was just hung over with a small amount of alcohol still in his system. I have woken up the next day after drinking and smelled like a brewery all day. Not saying this is ok, but guessing he had a night out of partying the day before.

  17. Swamp Rat says:

    Air Trans doesn’t know what to do with him. Ground him! He broke FAA regs and that should enough for now. Since when does an airline NOT have a policy covering this infraction of FAA regulations?

    Air Trans is not getting any of my business flying. I wonder how its other pilots feel about this incident?

  18. Dolt says:

    No wonder we have problems with idiots like “hung over” around.

  19. Brian Hamric says:

    It’s also being reported that this pilot is a federal flight deck officer which means he was most likely carrying a gun with him. He was drunk and about to get on a plane with a gun. That is all around bad!

  20. Drinking Again... says:

    Ted K… was that you?
    I know you love your booze!! You big fat LIB!!

  21. Mike says:

    Ted K… was that you?
    I know you love your booze!! You big fat LIB!!

  22. Matt says:

    The pilot wasn’t “drunk”, he was 0.01 over the legal limit to fly. If this happened while going through security, I bet he would be under 0.04 by the time he got to the plane to fly, it’s not as if they caught him already on the plane. This is all blown way out of proportion.

  23. roneida says:

    I once heard that pilots are forbidden to have any alcohol within 48 hours of scheduled flying. NOt sure..just heard.

    taking the train…they have dead man switches.

  24. Cheers.. says:

    My kind of guy, there are 1,000’s of flights everyday you think this doesn’t happen often, but its not noticed, Planes crash almost never, fok it gamble a little. I’l buy your next drink pilot!

  25. Richard in Minneapolis says:

    0.05 is nowhere near drunk. I challenge anyone who shared a bottle of wine with someone the night before to know EXACTLY what their blood alcohol level is the next morning.

    PRESUMED under the influence for cars is 0.1 to 0.08. The FAA takes it further to 0.04 and this guy came in at 0.05.

    Sounds like a case for a fine, a little remedial training, and get on with life. I’ll fly with him.

  26. Al says:

    I’m not really sure what a drunk pilot has to do with Ted Kennedy or Mark Dayton. Now maybe if we were talking about Tom Emmer and his drunk driving arrest, then I would see a connection. But the fact of the matter is that this story has nothing to do with politics. Go outside and enjoy the day. There won’t be any drunk pilots to ruin your bike ride.

  27. Murph says:

    Does anyone get on a plane sober? I know I won’t. I will probably check out when some plane hits my car!

  28. jp says:

    Don’t you think it would be fun to ride on a plane with a drunk pilot?….it would be like the crazy bus driver from elementary school who took corners too fast and went through stop signs. It would add a little excitement to a what would be a rather routine flight. =)

  29. SB says:

    Ted K passed away, so it could be him if he were a zombie. In that case I would fault the TSA for allowing a zombie pilot, who smelled of alcohol, through security.

    And while were on the subject of zombie pilots … this is one reason I don’t fly first class. Who’s brains do you think the are going to try to eat first: the closest ones available or the ones at the back of the plane?

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