Charges were formally filed Friday against a Delta pilot who attempted to operate a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to San Diego, California, after consuming alcohol.
According to charging documents, Gabriel L. Schroeder, 36, of Rosemount, entered a a security screening area around 10:30 a.m., July 30, only to leave the line. Airport police reported that Schroeder "stopped abruptly and appeared surprised" by additional screening being conducted as part of a random exercise at the Known Crew Member entrance.
Schroeder informed a TSA supervisor that he wasn't ready to be screened and left the area. The TSA supervisor reported the suspicious behavior, assuming Schroeder might have had a prohibited item in his bag.
Authorities were able to track Schroeder's movements from the time he left the crew member screening area to when he returned to be screened a short time later.
A Federal Air Marshal asked Schroeder where he went between trips to the screening area, and Schroeder claimed he went to the Delta crew room to get his iPad. The complaint states that Schroeder, however, had gone to a restroom for 27 seconds and never entered the Delta crew room.
The Federal Air Marshall searched the bathroom and found an unopened 1.75-liter bottle of vodka in a trash container.
At that point, Schroeder had boarded an Airbus A321 at Gate G-3 and was seated in the First Officer's chair in the cockpit. There were two passengers boarded on the plane when authorities asked to speak with him again.
A breath sample revealed a .065 blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) and he was arrested.
The complaint states that Schroeder eventually admitted to dumping the bottle of vodka in the trash. He also failed some sobriety tests and admitted to drinking a beer and three vodka drinks around 6 p.m. the night before.
Schroeder has been charged with one count of attempting to operate an aircraft under the influence of alcohol, and another count of attempting to operate an aircraft under the influence of alcohol with an alcohol concentration above .04.
The legal limit for blood-alcohol content is 0.04% for pilots, and the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't allow pilots to fly within eight hours of consuming alcohol. Pilots are also temporarily removed from duties if their BAC registers between 0.02 and 0.039 on a required alcohol test, according to FAA guidelines.
"Delta's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation," said a spokesperson for Delta after the incident.