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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
'Drunk' pilots lose licences
Police photos of pilots Thomas Cloyd, 44, (l) and Christopher Hughes, 41
The two pilots were released on $7,000 bail
Two US pilots accused of getting drunk before climbing to the cockpit of a Miami-to-Phoenix flight have had their licences suspended.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revoked the two pilots' licences on Thursday, "effective immediately".

On Monday, the two men aroused suspicions when they arrived for security clearance at Miami airport, reportedly carrying coffees but smelling of alcohol.

Aircraft cockpit
There were 124 passengers on board the plane
Police were called, and the two pilots were forced to return to the gate after starting to taxi toward the runway with 124 passengers on board.

The co-pilot later told police the smell was "merely mouthwash", according to police reports.

Police say the two men failed a breathalyzer test administered later in a police substation at the airport, registering over the legal limit to drive a car in Florida, let alone a jet.

Police said the pilot's blood-alcohol level was 0.091%, and the co-pilot's was 0.084%. Florida law won't let you drive a car past 0.08%.

And the FAA's rules for pilots are, naturally, much stricter.

To fly, you are not allowed to have had a drop for eight hours, or have an alcohol blood count of 0.04% or higher.

The two men were arrested, but released on $7,000 bail and will now face charges of operating a vehicle under the influence.

'Bottle to throttle' rule

The pilot, Thomas Porter Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41, both of Arizona will appear in a Miami court on 22 July and could face five years in prison if convicted.

America West, the pilots' airline, fired the two men on Wednesday for allegedly violating the company's strict 12-hour "bottle to throttle" rule.

The pair will be able to challenge their dismissal under union rules.

They can also appeal the revoking of their licences before the US National Transportation Safety Board.

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