The co-pilot for American Airlines flight 738 this morning from Detroit to Philadephia was arrested on suspicion of being drunk.
The TSA reported that the co-pilot appeared inebriated while passing through the security checkpoint and police were called. The co-pilot failed a breathalyzer test and was arrested and then released after he had sobered up.
Apparently though the co-pilot made it on to the aircraft, because passengers reported watching him being removed from the plane.
Passengers were re-accommodated on other flights after the 6:59 a.m. departure was cancelled.
Kristyn Bradley of Grosse Pointe Woods was on the flight with a group of Grosse Pointe North High School students and parents headed to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for spring break. Their departure has now been delayed until Sunday morning.
“His bad decision has certainly caused a lot of people some pain,” Bradley said of the co-pilot.
Considering the flight attendant caught at the crew screening checkpoint with cocaine at LAX and now the TSA catching a drunk co-pilot, and they aren’t very good at catching weapons and bombs, perhaps they should be re-purposed from screening passengers to screening only crew. Of course, sometimes the screeners are drunk (in fact, on-duty federal security directors, too).
Coincidentally the aircraft scheduled to operate the flight was a legacy US Airways Embraer ERJ-190 registered to American Airlines. Yesterday a JetBlue ERJ-190 landed in Nassau without its nose gear down. This particular American ERJ-190 had the same experience last year while landing in Houston.
the crew reported they had done the alternate gear extension but weren’t sure whether all gear was down and requested to perform a low approach to have the gear inspected from the ground. …some of the gear was down, there was quite some drag. …Five airport vehicles were dispatched to the parallel taxiway to have a look at the aircraft during the low approach, subsequently tower reported he did not see any nose gear down, so did the airport vehicles.
I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that aircraft, with that co-pilot, if it happened again. So I’m glad this was noticed, and have to think that the aircraft’s pilot would have taken action independently as well.
What’s notable of course is how rare this is, which is precisely why it gets coverage. But it’s also important, because while most of the time the plane mostly flies itself (something that got Korean Air’s chairman in hot water for saying), when something goes wrong it’s important they have their wits about them.
(HT: Sam K. who asks, “Does this mean AA is back serving pre-departure drinks?”)