How drunk was this Citilink pilot?


A few days ago a Citilink pilot showed up for work and probably shouldn’t have. He appeared to be drunk and struggled though an announcement to the passengers.

That audio is mostly crazy in that he made it on to the plane at all. There’s a video of him clearing security. With the caveat that I’m not 100% certain this is really the pilot in question (thought most everyone else seems to believe it is), the fact that this guy thought it was reasonable to go in to the airport at all is amazing to me.

More disconcerting to me than the fact that he showed up and believed he could fly the plane is that no one else along the way seems to disagree with that assessment. He engages with multiple security guards and is wholly incoherent on the video. But they let him head through to the plane. At which point he would likely meet a gate agent to get out to the aircraft. And also meet with the other pilot and the flight attendants. Given the performance at security it seems unlikely that he would have appeared much more coherent at the gate than at the checkpoint. That no one stopped him along the way is bizarre and disappointing at many levels. This is not a case of a guy who had a beer 7 hours ago instead of 8 hours ago and just missed the cutoff. It is downright scary.

On the plus side, it appears he won’t get the opportunity to make that mistake again. Capt. Tekad Purna was suspended on Wednesday after the incident and fired on Friday according to reports.

Header image: Citilink A320 by Maarten Visser via Flickr CC-SA

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

6 Comments

  1. In my 30 yr career I have questioned 2 pilots regarding their sober status. The first time I was at a pilot base so the Chief Pilot came to ‘test’ the pilot in question (this was an arrival). The second time was at SFO for a departure and we (several gate agents witnessed the FO walking and acting odd) had to call SOC for assistance, then had to deal with the Captain that was not too happy with us questioning his FO and yelled at us. The FO wasn’t drunk and I would do what we did again but if I was a timid person, I would probably think twice after all the shouting and so on the Captain did.

  2. I’m not surprised that he made it to the aircraft. Every story I’ve heard of a drunk pilot is them being removed from the aircraft after security or an agent alerted authorities, which is really all they can do.

  3. Very disturbing and it is a small, very minute segment that would violate the safety regulations, passenger trust, career etc.

    Major US carriers in conjunction with their unions have great programs to assist the disease (issue). The oversight in the USA compared to the rest of the world is the lexus in identifying and offering assistance.

    I oppose random testing, but it is done on a random and/or regular basis in the USA.

    Personally, if it was me, I would voice my concerns to the Captain discreetly, thus facilitating many options. Public accusations result in negative results and reactions.

    Years ago, I witnessed an airline contract employee accuse a flight crew member of alcohol on his breath. He had just had chewed gum/breath mints and it might have smelled like a sweet liquor. The flight was cancelled, the pilot questioned and tested. He blew 0.0. His religious beliefs prohibited alcohol consumption. The accuser was terminated and the pilots reputation was besmirched.

    Over 90 passengers were delayed. Folks in the gate area were alarmed by the “alcohol” allegation, even though it was baseless. I was the Captain on the above narrative.

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