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"FAA revokes licenses of pilots accused of drinking before flight"



Thursday, July 4, 2002

FAA revokes licenses of pilots accused of drinking before flight 
By PETE YOST
The Associated Press 


WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday it
has revoked the licenses of the two America West pilots accused of
trying to fly a jetliner from Miami while drunk. 

The federal agency said emergency orders taking away the licenses are
effective immediately. 

Federal regulations prohibit pilots from operating an aircraft or
performing other safety sensitive functions within eight hours of
consuming alcohol or if they have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or
higher, said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. America West's policy is 12
hours. 

Police said breath tests revealed the two pilots had blood-alcohol
levels above 0.08 percent. 

After a security screener noticed they smelled of alcohol Monday
morning, pilots Thomas Porter Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher
Hughes, 41, were ordered to return to the gate with their Phoenix-bound
plane and 124 passengers. 

Hughes initially told police it was "merely mouthwash," according to
police reports. 

The two pilots were charged with a felony count of operating an aircraft
under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.
They were released on $7,000 bond each late Monday and returned to their
Arizona homes. 

Arraignment was set for July 22. The pilots could face five years in
prison if convicted. 

Brown has said Cloyd and Hughes will be able to reapply for licenses
after a year by meeting the same requirements they faced when they first
applied. 

A spokesman for the Cloyd's family, Steve Hicks said, "We're saddened by
the occurrences and the allegations made against them." 

Arizona police records show that Cloyd has been arrested twice for
alleged alcohol-related offenses while at his home in Arizona. 

Two years ago, Cloyd was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct
after allegedly harassing his downstairs neighbor. He told police he had
been "drinking a lot" before he shouted obscenities, pounded on her door
and stomped on his floor, records show. 

He was sentenced to two years' probation. 

In 1998, Cloyd had been drinking when he was arrested for misdemeanor
domestic assault at his home in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix, records
show. He admitted he spit on his then-wife and shoved her into a
refrigerator. 

Prosecutors dropped the assault charge after Cloyd took an
anger-management class, said Carla Boatner, administrator for Chandler
Municipal Court. 

FAA policy requires pilots to report if they have been charged with
certain alcohol-related offenses, such as driving under the influence.
Their pilot's certificate is suspended after a third offense. 

In 2000, the last year for which a detailed breakdown is available, nine
of 10,419 airline employees randomly screened for alcohol tested
positive, the FAA said. Nine pilots also failed last year. 

So far this year, seven have failed, not including the America West
pilots. 

FAA rules require airlines every year to test 10 percent of employees
who have jobs in which safety matters, including pilots, flight
attendants and maintenance crews, the agency said. 

Airlines must notify the FAA when an employee tests positive for drugs
or alcohol. 

Pilots who fail the tests lose their medical certificates, which they
need to fly, the FAA said. Last year, 54 pilots had their medical
certificates suspended or revoked because they were convicted for
operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol. 

Pilots who lose their medical certificates can get back into the cockpit
by going through a rehabilitation program and getting medical approval.


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