US pilot jailed for being twice legal alcohol limit

US pilot jailed for being twice legal alcohol limit

A US airline pilot has been jailed after admitting boarding an aircraft he was due to help fly while more than double the drink-fly alcohol limit.

First officer, Paul Grebenc, 35, was taken off the United Airlines flight at Glasgow airport last August.

Police were contacted after Grebenc’s co-pilot, Carlos Roberto Licona, went through security and staff smelled alcohol on his breath.

Grebenc, from Humble in Texas, was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Licona was jailed for 15 months on March 10 after he also admitted attempting to board the flight while drunk.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard that on the morning of August 27, Grebenc and his colleagues were brought to the airport from the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, where they had spent the night, having flown from the US to Scotland the previous day.

They were due to fly a Boeing 757 to Newark, New Jersey, with take-off scheduled for 9am.

As they passed through the staff search area, security staff smelled alcohol on the breath of Licona, and raised the alarm.

Police were contacted and went to the departure gate, where Licona and Grebenc were removed from the flight.

Grebenc’s sample revealed he had 42 milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood – more than double the 20 milligrams limit for flying.

The flight, carrying 141 passengers, was delayed for nine hours.

Sentencing Grebenc, Sheriff David Pender said: “I realise you have had several major difficulties in your personal life and this has had an impact on your consumption of alcohol.

“While you have not been a commercial pilot for very long, you have vast skill as a US Air Force pilot and you must be aware of the dangers of flying under the influence of alcohol.

“You also deliberately flouted your employer’s guidelines and ignored what they regard as a safe eight-hour gap between drinking alcohol and being on duty.”

Grebenc admitted performing “an activity ancillary to an aviation function” at stand 28 at Glasgow airport.

David McKie, defending Grebenc, said: “He takes full responsibility for his actions.”

Grebenc’s wife is also a pilot with the US Air Force and the couple, who live on an air base in Mississippi, have two children aged two and four.

McKie told the court that the case would have “catastrophic consequences” for his client and could see him being dishonourably discharged from the US Air Force and losing his pilot’s licence.

A United Airlines spokesman told the BBC: “We hold all of our employees to the highest standards. This pilot was immediately removed from service and his flying duties in August 2016.”

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