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Finnair confirms case of drunk pilot

A pilot who turned up for work very intoxicated last week was ready to fly from Helsinki to Rome.

Finnair has confirmed that a pilot who turned up drunk for work at Helsinki Airport last week was one of its employees.

The pilot had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 1.5 promille (mg per ml of blood) when he arrived for work last Wednesday, according to Finland’s MTV news.

The flight was bound for Rome and scheduled to depart in the late afternoon. However, the captain had not reached the cockpit, as the plane was not yet ready for departure.

Company staff reported the suspected substance abuse to police, and a patrol was called to conduct a breathalyzer test, which confirmed the suspicion, the national broadcaster Yle said.

Such situations are very rare, assured Finnair spokesperson Päivyt Tallqvist.

“The situation is under police investigation,” she said. “When the substance abuse suspicion arose, Finnair staff reported it and then we followed protocol and asked the police to look into it. They administered a breathalyzer test, which confirmed the suspicion.”

Employment termination
Finnair flights tend to have two to three crew members in the cockpit at any one time, according to Tallqvist.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance abuse that affects everyone who works in security-critical tasks. Pilots, of course, belong to this group. So if an individual is at work under the influence of alcohol we report it to the relevant authorities, as was done in this case. Termination of employment always follows,” she said.

Departure was delayed by 90 minutes while new crew were located. Police say that the incident is under investigation.

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