Montreal-based Air Transat delayed passengers flying from Glasgow to Toronto on account of pilots found on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol.

According to Police Scotland and cited in CBC News, the cabin crew reportedly noticed strange behavior on the part of Pilots Jean-Francois Perreault, 39, and Imran Zafar Syed, 37, shortly before the flight was expected to take off and quickly told authorities. The men were taken into custody and were scheduled to appear at Paisley Sheriff Court, Glasgow, on Tuesday for having violated the Railway and Transportation Act of 2003.

An Air Transat Airbus A330-200 just after departure from Frankfurt Airport. Credit: FRA/EDDF/Wikipedia

The airline’s UK spokesperson, Kathryn Munro, reported that the transatlantic flight TS725 covers about 5,311 kilometers and takes roughly seven hours. It was rescheduled for Tuesday morning. The passengers were outraged and received compensation, including hotel accommodation, dinner, and a $200 voucher. However, these attempts to console the voyagers’ fury were not all successful. The Airline’s Twitter feed saw numerous comments from angry passengers displeased with the offerings they had received.

A Police Scotland spokesperson told the New York Times that even a “wee bit” of alcohol in a pilot could lead to charges placed against them. She stated that pilots cannot exceed nine micrograms of alcohol in 100 milliliters of breath in a breathalyzer test in Scotland. The measurement for which the pilots tested is currently unknown.

According to the airline’s website, it annually transports about 3 million passengers to 60 destinations aboard Boeing and Airbus jets, and its crew consists of about 2,500 employees. Air Transat confirmed the arrest of the pilots in a statement and refused to comment on the matter until having received the results of the investigation and proceedings. It tried to reassure passengers by tweeting the disclaimer: “the safety of our crews and passengers is, and will remain, a top priority at Air Transat.”

Should the pilots be found guilty, they allegedly may face at least two years in prison. There are yet to report on the possibility that the pilots may have their licenses suspended.

Misbehaviour among flight officials

These two Canadian pilots were not the first to have been in trouble for being under the influence. According to CNN, last year police reported having arrested an air traffic controller at Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas after a pilot repeatedly requested clearance to taxi but had received no response from the tower. A police report stated that a fellow employee had found the silent air traffic controller asleep in his chair with “his shirt off.”
Furthermore, in March this year police reported that an American Airlines co-pilot was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after having failed two sobriety tests.
The flight crew has the lives of numerous passengers in their hands and although they have the natural tendency to make mistakes, as any human does, being under the influence on duty is a grave offense and has the potential to place those on board at serious risk.
Source: CNN