Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg

American Air Co-Pilot Suspected of Attempting to Fly While Drunk

  • Carrier cancels scheduled flight from Detroit to Philadelphia
  • Pilot's blood alcohol level was allegedly above legal limit

American Airlines Group Inc. canceled a scheduled flight from Detroit to Philadelphia on Saturday after a co-pilot was suspected of being intoxicated.

The pilot, whose name wasn’t made public, allegedly tested above the legal limit for blood alcohol content, according to a statement issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot was detained at a security checkpoint at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in suburban Romulus, Michigan.

“Flight 736 was canceled and we are re-accommodating our customers on other flights,” Laura Nedbal, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said by phone.

“This is a serious matter and we are assisting local law enforcement and the Federal Aviation Administration with the investigation,” Nedbal said. She declined to say what range of penalties a pilot could face if found to be unfit for flight due to intoxication.

FAA rules concerning pilots and alcohol are stricter than those enforced for motorists. The agency prohibits pilots from flying while under the influence of alcohol, specifically when their blood alcohol content is 0.04 percent or higher, or within eight hours of consuming any alcoholic beverages. The American pilot allegedly tested above the 0.04-percent level.

The pilot was scheduled to fly on an Embraer E-190, an 88-seat model that’s smaller than a mainline single-aisle aircraft such as a Boeing Co. 737 but is larger than a typical regional jet.

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