United Airlines suspends allegedly drunken pilot

Kyle Peterson, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 5:28 PM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - United Airlines has suspended a pilot who was arrested in London on suspicion that he was about to fly a Boeing 767 with 124 passengers while drunk, the airline said Tuesday.

The incident occurred Monday before Flight 949, which was bound for Chicago and would have carried 124 passengers and 11 crew. The passengers were accommodated on other flights.

The 51-year-old pilot, whose name was not released, was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport and freed on bail pending the results of alcohol tests, London metropolitan police spokesman Simon Fisher said.

Fisher declined to give further information.

United, a unit of UAL Corp, said the pilot has been suspended.

“Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation,” UAL spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.

“United’s alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry, and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy,” she said.

In another incident involving airline safety recently, the pilots of a Northwest Airlines jetliner became distracted and overshot the Minneapolis-St. Airport by 150 miles (240 km) last month.


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