Is that plane swerving?

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Mar 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

On Saturday (March 26, 2016), an American Airlines flight from Detroit, MI to Philadelphia, PA was cancelled after one of the pilots was arrested. A TSA agent notified the Police of suspicious activity. Subsequently, the pilot failed breathalyzer tests administered by local authorities.

The relevant FAA standard indicates no pilot my operate an airplane within 8 hours of consuming alcohol or with a blood alcohol content .04 percent or greater. It appears the pilot in question had a blood alcohol content above .04, though the exact results are unknown.

American Airlines operates a major hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The company is a significant component of the region's economy. The presence of Charlotte's International Airport is also undeniable for our local economy. These safety issues are important as they greatly impact such important companies.

My question to you, the reader concerns the broader topic: Do you believe the FAA's standard is appropriate?

You can certainly argue the standard is not restrictive enough. Factors to consider include: the number of passengers, the complexity of the aircraft, the danger of innocent bystanders (both in the air, and on the ground), the amount of explosive jet fuel on board, etc. Upon considering factors such as these, one may argue the risks are too great to allow any alcohol to remain in a pilot's system during a flight. 

On the other hand, one may argue the FAA's standard is appropriate. Admittedly, I am not privy to the FAA's research regarding this matter. I would assume the FAA carefully determined the current standard after much research. I would be rather curious to learn this information from a knowledgeable source. As a practical matter, the current standard does allow for 8 hours of alcohol dissipation, and / or limits the blood alcohol content to a quite low .04 percent. By way of reference, North Carolina utilizes a .08 blood alcohol content for non-commercial drivers with no prior convictions. 

So, what do you think? Do you believe the FAA standard for pilots is appropriate?  

As a Charlotte, NC DWI attorney, I view this from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney.  Accordingly, I certainly believe a pilot has a right to work in a reasonable environment, and he / she has constitutional rights of due process when charged with a crime (regardless of how bad the scenario initially looks).  I also believe the public (here the TSA) must balance the individual's personal rights with the public's concerns.  I previously mentioned the .08 blood alcohol content standard for North Carolina. Do you believe this limit is the appropriate North Carolina standard?  

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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