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U.K. Jails PIA Pilot for Nine Months

by AFP
Banaras Khan—AFP

Banaras Khan—AFP

Irfan Faiz found guilty of alcohol consumption beyond safe limits.

A Pakistan International Airlines pilot was jailed for nine months in Britain on Friday for being drunk beyond safe limits before he was due to fly a plane with 156 people onboard.

Irfan Faiz, 55, was asked to leave the Airbus cockpit during checks for the Sept. 18 flight from Leeds Bradford International Airport to Islamabad because he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet. The father-of-two was found to have three times the legal amount of alcohol in his blood, according to prosecutors.

Faiz told police he had consumed three quarters of a bottle of whisky but had stopped drinking at about 3 a.m., some 19 hours ahead of the planned takeoff. His behavior may have been permitted in Pakistan, where unspoken rules state that there should be 12 hours between “bottle and throttle” no matter how much the pilot had drunk, the court heard.

Judge Peter Coulson described this rule as “extraordinary” and said he was also “astonished” to hear that pilots regularly flying out of Britain did not know about the far stricter regulations there. In Britain, pilots are permitted nine micrograms of alcohol in 100 milliliters of breath tested, well below the 35 micrograms allowed to drive a car. Faiz initially gave a reading of 41, but a later test recorded 28.

At the time of the incident, PIA said Faiz would be sacked if he was convicted.

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