Readers of the Weekend Herald website would have been dismayed on learning:
Air NZ Crew too drunk for flight
But the story beneath the headline suggests the headline is bollocks.
There is no mention of the crew being “drunk”.
They had been drinking.
But even if aviators just sniff a bit of booze they are considered unfit to fly for several hours afterwards.
As Alf understand it, pilots legally must not drink less than eight hours before flying.
Many employers impose a more stringent limit of 12 hours.
Aviation industry people talk about 12 hours from bottle to throttle.
Even then, there are tough alcohol-in-the-bloodstream tests to be met – much stiffer than those we MPs passed into law for motorists this week.
So the Air NZ crew had not necessarily drunk too much.
Rather, they would be considered unfit to fly if they had had a wee dram or two within the previous 12 hours.
Alf’s readers should take this into account when they read the Herald beat-up which says:
Air New Zealand passengers stranded for days in Hawaii are “gobsmacked” at revelations crew were out drinking, making them unfit for duty if the plane had been made airworthy.
Several crew who were in Hawaii this week to fly stranded passengers home are believed to have been warned that they were unfit to fly, after drinking.
The Weekend Herald understands that the airline would have been unable to assemble a full crew, even if the plane had been operational. This has sparked an internal investigation.
The tosser who wrote those paragraphs would have known the crew were not necessarily drunk because the story goes on:
The crew’s breach of the 12-hour “bottle to throttle” no-drinking rule has prompted a stern warning from Air New Zealand managers, who say a “small group” is not living up to the airline’s standards.
“You are responsible for ensuring you are rested, fit and healthy and available to deliver the great service our customers expect and deserve,” airline bosses told them in a letter yesterday.
There is the whiff of a suspicion some of the Air NZ team might have over-indulged.
The airline would not comment on anonymous claims that members of two crews who ended up in Honolulu were out drinking to as late as 5am and were “trashed”.
But as readers can see, those claims are unsubstantiated.
The crews ALLEGEDLY were drunk is as far as you can reasonably go, and you should be wary of going that far.
Alf recalls the story of a Pakistani airline pilot who was jailed for nine months for being drunk in his cockpit before a flight.
The judge said it was ‘astonishing’ that foreign pilots flying out of UK airports were unaware of the law here and believed it was legal to fly if there was a 12 hour gap ‘from bottle to throttle.’
Captain Irfan Faiz, 55, was more than four times the drink-fly limit when he was breathalysed after being spotted ‘staggering’ and ‘not walking straight’ on the way to the plane, a court heard. He was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning.
Moments earlier he had been doing pre-flight checks in an Airbus 310 plane, which was due to fly from Leeds-Bradford airport to Islamabad in Pakistan with 145 passengers and 11 crew on board.
Airport security staff had noticed he was eating mints and smelt strongly of alcohol, but Faiz told an airport manager who boarded the plane: ‘I’m alright to fly it.’
He was escorted back to the terminal and explained he had drunk three-quarters of a litre of whisky the night before – finishing his drinking session 18 hours earlier at 3am.
To put things in perspective regarding the Air NZ bunch, Alf was down at his favourite club last night.
He had a nip or three – not enough to get drunk but enough to ensure he should not drive home.
The rules are much tougher in the airline business.