Suspected of drinking, pilot is arrested at MSP

  • Updated: May 15, 2011 - 9:34 PM

Federal alcohol violation suspected

An AirTran Airways pilot was arrested and removed from his scheduled flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport early Saturday after he was found to have a blood alcohol level slightly above what's permitted for airline pilots.

A security worker smelled alcohol on the pilot's breath and called airport police, who measured the pilot's blood alcohol level at 0.05 percent, just over the Federal Aviation Administration limit of 0.04 percent.

The legal limit for vehicle drivers in Minnesota is twice that: 0.08 percent. Pilots also are prohibited from flying for at least eight hours after drinking alcohol.

Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said Sunday the incident is under investigation.

The pilot was arrested at the gate before a scheduled 5:45 a.m. flight to Milwaukee and later was released.

The plane, which had 112 passengers on board, was delayed for 35 minutes while another pilot was called to take over.

In a statement Sunday, AirTran said it would work with local officials to determine legal action.

"Safety of our customers and crew is always our primary concern," it said. "The captain involved in this incident will not fly for AirTran Airways during the investigation."

BILL MCAULIFFE

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