Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Federal Aviation Administration penalties vary for pilots who don’t report drunken driving arrests

Pilots caught breaking federal rules by failing to report off-duty drunken driving arrests and convictions have largely received warnings, fines and short suspensions for the motor vehicle offenses, according to documents obtained by the Herald.

Airline transport pilots — the license held by the vast majority of those in the cockpits of commercial airline jets — were cited in 137 cases for failing to report driver’s license suspensions and convictions stemming from drunken driving stops from Jan. 1, 2009, to July 22, 2014, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots are required to report any drunken driving arrests and convictions to the FAA, according to federal rules.

But only 21 of those 137 cases resulted in the FAA revoking a pilot’s license to fly. In 48 cases, pilots received warnings.

Pilots received fines ranging from $100 to $1,750 in 28 cases, while the FAA handed down suspensions in 39 cases in which pilots failed to report a DUI. The majority of those suspensions sidelined the pilots for 60 days or less. In one case no action was taken against the pilot, records show.

But there’s no way of telling if the cited pilots were working for airlines at the time of the drunken driving busts or whether they are still flying commercial planes, because FAA officials redacted the names and airline employers in the database obtained by the Herald through a public records request.

FAA officials said pilots must pass periodic medical examinations, and pilots’ names are routinely matched against data in the National Driver Registry. Pilots with more than one DUI offense must undergo a substance abuse evaluation, according to the agency.


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