CALGARY, Alberta - An airline pilot is facing charges in Canada after police say he was found by his co-pilot passed out in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 before it was set to take off.
Calgary police say the gate crew as well as crewmembers on the aircraft indicated that Miroslav Gronych was behaving strangely ahead of his scheduled flight Saturday. Sgt. Paul Stacey says the co-pilot later found the 37-year-old captain “slumped over in the seat” of the airliner.
“It had all the potential for a disaster but I’ll tell you this much - the likelihood of a pilot on a major airline like this actually being able to take off when they’re impaired like that is pretty slim, because there’s a lot of checks and balances. There’s the other flight crew and there’s gate crew and they’re all about safety,” Stacey said.
“So, I’m not surprised that he got caught before (the plane) left the terminal.”
The pilot was escorted from the plane and charged with having a blood-alcohol level above .08 and controlling an aircraft while impaired. Police allege Gronych had three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system.
Sunwing Airlines calls it “a very unfortunate matter.”
The Mexico-bound plane that was scheduled to make stops in Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba later took off with another pilot.
This is the second incident in a week involving an allegedly intoxicated airline pilot.
Last week, an Indonesian budget airline fired a pilot suspected of trying to fly a plane while he was drunk. Citilink airlines president and budget director also stepped down over the incident.
Passengers became suspicious when they heard slurred words and unclear announcements from the cockpit. Some of them left the plane and asked for a replacement of the pilot they believed to be either drunk or under drug influence.
Footage posted on YouTube showed the pilot appearing to stagger through a metal detector at a security checkpoint. Security guards picked up his belongings that were falling on the floor as he seemed out of control.
The airline previously had dismissed reports that the 32-year-old pilot Tekad Purna was drunk, saying initial tests of drug and alcohol were negative.
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