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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Pilot arrested on drink charge
Virgin 747
Virgin Atlantic reassured customers its company policies were strict
An airline pilot has been arrested on suspicion of being above the alcohol limit on board a plane due to fly to New York, police have confirmed.

After he was breathalysed, passengers on Saturday's Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow were delayed for an hour.

The 47-year-old was arrested under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 and later bailed to a date in May, police said.

A Virgin Atlantic statement insisted safety was the firm's "top priority".

It found another pilot to fly to JFK airport in New York.

The aircraft was at the terminal gate when the incident occurred.

The airline will be investigating this matter thoroughly
Virgin Atlantic statement

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "At 8.59am yesterday morning, March 31, officers at Heathrow Airport arrested a 47-year-old male pilot onboard a Virgin Atlantic flight en route to JFK."

The act he was detained under makes being over the limit illegal while "performing an aviation function".

Pilots, navigators, flight engineers and cabin crew are subject to a limit of just nine microgrammes of alcohol in breath, compared with 35 microgrammes for motorists.

Inconvenience

The Virgin Atlantic statement read: "The pilot was due to operate a flight from Heathrow.

"Virgin Atlantic provided a replacement for the flight which departed just over an hour later than scheduled from Heathrow.

"Virgin Atlantic would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused and would like to reassure passengers that the airline will be investigating this matter thoroughly in accordance with its strict company policies in relation to operational staff.

"The safety and security of its passengers and crew is Virgin Atlantic's top priority."


SEE ALSO
Jury clears drink-accused pilot
21 Mar 07 |  Manchester
Airline worker fails breath test
30 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties
US court sentences drunken pilots
21 Jul 05 |  Americas

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