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Drunk-on-job pilot jailed for 10 months

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Drunk-on-job pilot jailed for 10 months
An Air Baltic flight leaves Oslo's Gardermoen airport. Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix
21:46 CEST+02:00
The Latvian pilot arrested drunk as he was preparing to fly an Air Baltic flight from Oslo's Gardermoen airport to Greece with 109 passengers on board has been jailed for 10 months.
The captain, who has not been named under Norwegian privacy laws, was found guilty of all four charges. 
 
“As captain, the accused has grossly neglected his duties, and could, if the flight had taken place, put a large number of people at risk. This is particularly the case, as the co-pilot must be considered as also being severely affected,”  Judge Karen Wendel Sandaa wrote in her verdict. 
 
Four of the plane's staff, the captain, co-pilot and two cabin crew, were arrested in a state of intoxication on the morning of the flight. 
 
According to a blood test, the captain had a blood alcohol level of 0.54, well beyond the legal level. 
 
He also consumed alcohol less than eight hours before the flight, and failed in fulfilling his duties as a captain by allowing a drunk crew to board the plane. 
 
During the trial, the 50-year-old admitted to having been drunk, saying he had consumed half a litre of brandy the previous afternoon. 
 
He claimed, however, that he had stopped drinking before 8pm the evening before the flight and believed the he and his crew had been sober. 
 
Wendel Sandaa dismissed the man's claims, citing witnesses who observed the four becoming increasingly drunk throughout the evening, and pointing to the two empty litre bottles of whiskey found in the room they shared. 
 
She also noted that the captain had himself put one of the stewardesses to bed, suggesting he was aware that she was severely intoxicated, and had sent someone to wake his co-pilot before the flight, indicating he expected him to have trouble rousing himself unaided. 
 
The court said there was little doubt that the crew were intending to fly, as the captain had already turned on the lights on the instrument panel and made a preliminary inspection of the the plane's exterior, at the time when he was arrested. 
 
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