Delta Air Lines Pilot Jailed For 10 Months After Turning Up Drunk For Boeing 767 Edinburgh

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  • A Delta Air Lines pilot was sentenced to ten months for showing up intoxicated to a flight.
  • They were arrested at the baggage scanner with high alcohol content, with them failing the breathalyzer test at the airport.
  • Mitigating factors during the sentencing included an official alcohol abuse diagnosis, support from their employer, and completion of a treatment program.

A Delta Air Lines pilot was sentenced to ten months in jail after pleading guilty to showing up intoxicated to a flight that he was rostered to in June 2023. Then, the 61-year-old pilot, who is now 63, was scheduled to fly between Edinburgh and New York.

10-month sentence

According to a statement by Sheriff Alison Stirling published by the Judiciary of Scotland, the pilot, who was a Delta Air Lines captain, was sentenced to 10 months in jail following a trial at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court. The sentence was announced on March 19, 2024.

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Stirling said that on June 16, 2023, the pilot had flight DL209 that was scheduled to depart Edinburgh Airport (EDI) at 10:35 (UTC +0). The Boeing 767-300ER was supposed to arrive at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) several hours later, but the flight was canceled after the captain was arrested and taken into custody.


Flight Canceled After Delta Air Lines Crew Member Arrested

A crew member on a Delta Air Lines flight was arrested in Edinburgh for reasons unknown, forcing the New York-bound flight to be canceled.

Arrested at the airport baggage scanner

Detailing the arrest, the court’s statement indicated that the defendant arrived at the airport’s baggage control area with their pilot uniform at 9:15. Subsequently, the pilot put their bag in a tray and sent it through the X-ray for a screening, which it failed, since the bag contained more liquids than regulations allow.

Delta 767 landing1

Photo: Lukas Wunderlich | Shutterstock

Following a manual search, to which the pilot consented, security personnel discovered two bottles of strong liquor, one of which was half full. Since the captain was wearing their pilot uniform, EDI’s employees called the police, and the pilot told them that they had been drinking the previous evening.

The police requested the pilot to do a breathalyzer test, which they failed and subsequently, they were arrested and taken to the Livingston Police Office, where the captain agreed to provide a blood sample. The court’s statement said that the captain’s blood contained no less than 49 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, while the legal limit was 20 mg.

“You indicated that you understood the caution and charge and responded “I’m terrified”.”


Flying Under The Influence: The Pilots That Have Been Arrested For Being Drunk In The Cockpit

There are several incidents of pilots being arrested for being drunk.

Mitigating circumstances

While Stirling outlined a few mitigating circumstances, the court still imposed the 10-month sentence since the pilot’s offense showed a high level of culpability and a high potential for serious harm to have been done as a result of showing up to work while intoxicated.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300ER

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The statement said that the pilot was diagnosed with ‘Severe Alcohol Use Disorder,’ but was in remission after completing the ‘Talbott Recovery Skyline Program.’ In addition, multiple people, including pilots who had previous issues with alcoholism, sent in letters of support, while their employer, Delta Air Lines, was also supportive of the now-indicted pilot.

“I understand from the Talbott reports that you lost your job and were on disability, but I also understand that it is likely you will be re-employed as a pilot, having completed your treatment, and that you may return to Delta.”

According to Stirling, Delta Air Lines placed the pilot on long-term disability leave, with them receiving half of their salary. The court’s statement said that the pilot plans to reapply for a new medical certificate and to be reinstated to their former position since they have no other health issues. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a mandatory pilot retirement age of 65.


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  • britishairways_216862008867490 (1)
    New York JFK Airport

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    Rick Cotton (Executive Director of Port Authority of NY and NJ)

    Passenger Count :
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    Runways :
    4L/22R – 3,682m (12,079 ft) |
    4R/22L – 2,560m (8,400 ft) |
    13L/31R – 3,048m (10,000 ft) |
    13R/31L – 4,423m (14,511 ft)

    Terminal 1 |
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    Terminal 4 |
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