JetBlue Pilot Removed From Plane On Suspicion Of Being Drunk
A JetBlue pilot was removed from his plane’s cockpit before takeoff Wednesday morning after authorities suspected he was drunk and say they found him to be over four times the legal blood alcohol limit for pilots.
James Clifton, 52, was taken into custody at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after a TSA officer suspected that he may be impaired while passing through security and alerted airport police, airport officials said in a statement.
Clifton, who was to fly to Fort Lauderdale, was given a portable Breathalyzer test and registered a level of 0.17%, authorities said. The federal limit to legally drive in the U.S. is a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, though pilots are barred from flying if they have a concentration of 0.04% or more or if they’ve had a drink within eight hours of flying, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
When interviewed by police, Clifton allegedly admitted to having had seven to eight drinks before getting on the aircraft, a spokeswoman for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s TSA, which oversees the Buffalo airport, told NBC News.
Before submitting to the test, he allegedly said he needed to get his gun from the plane’s cockpit, the spokeswoman said. Pilots are permitted to carry handguns on planes so long as they are licensed and trained to do so.
The gun was confiscated by police, along with three 17-round magazines, ABC New York reported.
Clifton, who is from Orlando, Florida, was taken into custody and could face federal charges, the airport said.
A JetBlue representative told HuffPost in a statement Thursday that the airline is aware of the incident and that it is “cooperating fully with law enforcement.”
“We are also conducting our own internal investigation. The crewmember involved has been removed from his duties,” a spokesperson said.