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Canada transport minister tells airlines to ensure pilots are not drunk

sunwingCanada’s transport minister has issued a warning to airlines serving in-country airports that they need to ensure their flight crews are sober enough to fly. Marc Garneau has issued a written advisory which says commercial carriers have the responsibility of ascertaining whether pilots or cabin staff are too drunk to work.

The advice notes that it is illegal for flight crews to work in any eight-hour period after drinking alcohol. The letter stated that the eight Canadian domestic airlines were required to make sure all their employees complied with international civil aviation regulations.

The letter is the Transport Ministry’s response to two high profile incidents involving Canada based airlines recently. The ministry says all Canadian airlines have confirmed they have safeguards in place to check for alcohol and drug consumption.

Despite the protocols, a Sunwing pilot managed to bypass them all and get into the cockpit of his aircraft at Calgary Airport on New Year’s Eve. The co-pilot found Miroslav Gronych passed out over the controls just before the flight was due to depart for Regina, Winnipeg and Cancun with 100 passengers aboard.

A breath test revealed Gronych’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving a car. Minister Garneau cited this incident in his letter and said it was a very worrying scenario which could have had tragic consequences.

This incident followed one last July in which two Air Transat pilots failed sobriety tests at Glasgow Airport. They had been due to fly to Toronto with more than 250 passengers on board.

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