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Delta pilot receives 10-month jail for attempting to aircraft while intoxicated.

Photo : Greg Bowker

In a sobering turn of events, Lawrence Russell, a Delta Airlines pilot, found himself sentenced to a 10-month jail term for attempting to operate a Boeing 767 aircraft while under the influence. The unsettling incident unfolded on June 16th of the previous year at Edinburgh Airport. Russell, donning his pilot's uniform, made his way to baggage control approximately 80 minutes prior to the scheduled departure bound for New York. However, his routine was disrupted when airport security discovered something alarming during the X-ray scan of his carry-on luggage – two bottles of Jagermeister, one of which had been opened and was "just under half full."

What followed was a cascade of events revealing Russell's inebriation. A breath test indicated that his blood alcohol content was nearly two and a half times over the legal limit. Specifically, his blood sample revealed 49 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, surpassing the legal limit of 20mg. Russell admitted guilt to reporting for duty while impaired by alcohol at an Edinburgh court.

During the sentencing, Sheriff Alison Stirling emphasized the dual purpose of the prison term – as both a punitive measure and as a safeguard for public safety. Lynne Barrie, Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, sharply criticized Russell's actions, underscoring the grave peril posed to passengers and crew alike. This wasn't Russell's first brush with alcohol-related issues; he had previously garnered two DUI convictions in the United States. However, he had seemingly turned a corner by completing a rehabilitation program and maintaining sobriety for 277 days.

The gravity of Russell's offense is further underscored by Federal Aviation Administration regulations, which expressly prohibit pilots from operating aircraft with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 or higher – half the legal limit for driving in the United States. Moreover, those found guilty of exceeding this limit face a maximum penalty of a two-year jail sentence.

Looking ahead, Russell's future remains uncertain. Despite his incarceration, there's a possibility he may be eligible for re-employment as a pilot, potentially even by Delta Airlines, depending on their discretion and assessment of his fitness for duty.

March 20, 2024 1:33 p.m. 4771

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