- The pilot’s blood alcohol level was 3 times legal limit, police say
- Gate crew reported behavior to co-pilot
Capt. Miroslav Gronych was “behaving oddly before he became unconscious in the cockpit” on Saturday, Calgary police said. The plane, with 99 passengers and six crew members, was scheduled to fly to Regina before heading to Winnipeg and Cancun, Mexico.
Gronych, a 37-year-old Slovak national in Canada on a work visa, was charged with having control of an aircraft while impaired.
“Initial tests conducted by police indicate the pilot was severely impaired by alcohol,” police said in a statement.
Two hours after his arrest, the pilot’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08, Calgary police spokesman Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey said, according to SAHIFANEWS partner CBC News.
“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,” Stacey said. “There’s the other flight crew and there’s gate crew and they’re all about safety.”
The gate crew noticed Gronych acting strangely and told the co-pilot, who found Gronych passed out in the pilot’s seat, Stacey said.
Budget airline Sunwing apologized for their pilot’s behavior and commended the rest of the crew for their diligence in handling what they described as a “very unfortunate matter.”
Sunwing said the plane took off a short time later with a different pilot.
Stacey said Transport Canada will investigate, and more charges could apply. “He won’t be flying anytime soon.”