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July 31, 2014

Pilot at MSP fails breath test, pulled from cockpit

Police at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport went into the cockpit of an American Airlines jet at 6:19 a.m. Friday and took a pilot into custody amid suspicion that he had been drinking alcohol, KARE 11 reports.

The pilot, who had been doing pre-flight checks, failed an initial breathalyzer test and was taken to Fairview Southdale Hospital to test for blood alcohol content, Fox 9 reported.

According to the Star Tribune,  Twin Cities airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said the pilot was seated in the cockpit and making his pre-flight checks for the 6:10 a.m. flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport before he was taken into custody.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the pilot was on American Eagle Flight 4590.

The plane was a Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft with 65 seats. Miller said 53 passengers were booked for the flight, which took off at 8:10 a.m. once arrangements for a replacement captain were made.

The Airport Police Department has identified the pilot as a 48-year-old from Raleigh, North Carolina, KSTP reports. Charges were pending, KSTP says.

Airport spokesman Pat Hogan told the Star Tribune that he did not know the specific measurement for the pilot’s level of intoxication in the initial test. For pilots, the legal limit is 0.04 percent.

The pilot was investigated because “someone believed his breath smelled of alcohol,” Hogan told the newspaper.

The pilot could face criminal charges and possible discipline by federal authorities.