JetBlue Pilot Yanked From Tarmac With Alcohol Levels Four Times Legal Limit

JetBlue confirmed in a Wednesday memo that a co-pilot reported under suspicion of on-duty intoxication “has been removed” from airline operations, as all airlines must adhere to a strict zero-tolerance internal policy regarding alcohol. Airport authorities administered a breathalyzer test prior to releasing the offending employee to JetBlue.

A male co-pilot formerly employed by JetBlue is now facing possible federal charges after reportedly attempting to conduct a three-hour commercial flight on Wednesday while very drunk.

JetBlue Flight 2465, from Buffalo, New York, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was subsequently delayed as airport authorities confirmed that a breathalyzer registered a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.17% —over two times above the legal limit to operate a surface-based motor vehicle in most US states.

JetBlue employees agree to random alcohol testing as part of its drug and alcohol program, which prohibits a blood alcohol content over 0.04%, the Federal Aviation Administration’s legal limit.

The individual in question has been identified as James Clifton, a 52-year-old resident of Orlando, Florida.

Passenger Bill Murphy lauded the professionalism of the pilot and crew, telling WGRZ that there was never any major disruption for passengers in his section, which was close to the cockpit.

“The captain and the crewmembers of the flight were absolutely fantastic,” Murphy said. “They handled the situation great and my hat goes off to the captain because whatever was going on up there, he was professional.”

Per the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee initially alerted authorities to the co-pilot’s unusual behavior during the pilot pre-check process.

Clifton’s co-pilot also informed authorities of the 52-year-old’s behavior ahead of their planned takeoff.

“We adhere to all DOT rules and requirements concerning alcohol at all times and have a very strict zero tolerance internal alcohol policy,” read a JetBlue company statement on the matter.

The flight was initially slated to depart New York’s Buffalo Niagara International Airport around 6:15 a.m., local time, but passengers remained on the tarmac until personnel were cleared to resume travel at around 10:25 a.m., local time. The flight landed safely in Ft. Lauderdale around 1:11 p.m., local time.

“We are aware of the incident that occurred this morning in Buffalo and are cooperating fully with law enforcement,” the airline’s memo detailed. “We are also conducting our own internal investigation. The crewmember involved has been removed from his duties.”

JetBlue reportedly provided passengers with vouchers due to the inconvenience.

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