Booz­ing air­line pi­lots need their wings clipped

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - OPINION - Chris nel­son

any air­line sug­gest­ing that get­ting there is in­deed half the fun could be ac­cused of en­gag­ing in bald-face ef­fron­tery. There’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing pleas­ant about air travel to­day. it’s sim­ply a means to an end.

We’re probed and poked, X-rayed and screened, forced to line up for hours at var­i­ous check­points where scowl­ing busy­bod­ies, who prob­a­bly couldn’t make it as real cops, glower at us like we’re cat­tle sud­denly stricken with TB.

Then, when we make it to the front of the line, we’re told to jet­ti­son the most mun­dane items — our in­no­cent wa­ter bot­tles tossed aside as though the con­tents had been scooped from a Ch­er­nobyl-area well — and our shoes viewed as though dis­cov­ered on a north Korean launch pad.

and that’s be­fore we’ve made it aboard the bat­tery-chicken pen that goes by the name of coach travel on the world’s air­lines.

Most of this silli­ness is done un­der the ban­ner of se­cu­rity, for which we pay an in­or­di­nate amount in var­i­ous fees tacked onto tick­ets. Per­haps it has in­deed worked — the world’s ter­ror­ists de­cid­ing it’s eas­ier to hi­jack a truck to slaugh­ter the in­no­cent than en­dure the mind­numb­ing hor­ror of air­port screen­ing.

us reg­u­lar folk have no such op­tion. We sim­ply want to go some­where that’s too far away for rail or road. so we grit our col­lec­tive teeth, ar­rive three hours in ad­vance and tell our­selves, half-heart­edly, it’s at least mak­ing the jour­ney safer.

yet, you go through all that an­noy­ance and in­con­ve­nience only to dis­cover the bloke get­ting into the cock­pit to fly this sar­dine can of an air­craft is re­port­edly drunk as a skunk.

last week, Cal­gary po­lice charged a pi­lot af­ter he al­legedly passed out drunk in the cock­pit of a sun­wing plane, with 99 pas­sen­gers and six crew aboard as it sat on the yyc tar­mac.

When the pi­lot’s blood al­co­hol level was later tested, he was found to be more than three times the le­gal limit for driv­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

This is far from unique. last sum­mer, two air Transat pi­lots made front-page news in the u.k. when they were hauled off a plane for al­legedly be­ing ine­bri­ated be­fore it left Glas­gow for Toronto.

a month later, it was the turn of a pair of united air­lines pi­lots, who were nabbed try­ing to fly out of the same scot­tish air­port. (Maybe it’s the lure of all those sin­gle malts avail­able in the lounges.)

and, if you want a real hoot, look at the youtube footage of the in­done­sian pi­lot stum­bling through se­cu­rity on his way to the cock­pit this past week. For­tu­nately, his inane, pre-flight bab­blings raised enough con­cern among pas­sen­gers that many tried flee­ing the plane.

Of course, air­lines try to turn this hor­ror show on its head by hav­ing the gall to point out that while their highly paid staff might by blotto, they didn’t ac­tu­ally get off the ground, so ev­ery­thing’s fine and dandy.

Well it’s not. Why should pay­ing cus­tomers be sub­jected to so much screen­ing they feel like an over­squeezed melon by the time they drop into a con­trap­tion laugh­ingly called a seat, while pi­lots can get into the cock­pit three sheets to the wind? how can we be sure there aren’t planes tak­ing off ev­ery day with those be­hind the con­trols drunk as skunks?

The rules for pi­lots are sim­ple enough — no fly­ing within eight hours of con­sum­ing any al­co­hol. ran­dom checks aren’t enough. The sim­ple type of dis­abler ma­chine that can be in­stalled on a car’s ig­ni­tion, en­sur­ing that a driver blow clean be­fore the ve­hi­cle starts, should be manda­tory for pi­lots to ac­cess a cock­pit.

and if that in­fringes on their rights, well, they can al­ways line up with the rest of us at se­cu­rity. Oh, and pay for the priv­i­lege. Chris Nel­son is a Cal­gary writer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.