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2 Pilots' Licenses Revoked by FAA

Aviation: The American West fliers are accused of operating a passenger jet under the influence of alcohol. They can apply to get their permits back after a year.


WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it had revoked the licenses of two America West airline pilots who were arrested Monday in Miami for operating a passenger jet under the influence of alcohol.

The order takes effect immediately, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. The two men--pilot Porter Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41--may reapply for new licenses in a year, she added.

FAA regulations prohibit pilots from operating an aircraft or performing other "safety-sensitive" functions within eight hours of consuming alcohol or if they have an alcohol concentration in their blood of 0.04 or higher.

Cloyd and Hughes had blood-alcohol levels that were above the legal limit of 0.08 in Florida, where they were scheduled to fly 124 passengers on an America West flight to Phoenix. Authorities were alerted by a security screener who smelled alcohol on the pilots' breath. The plane had left the gate, though had not yet taken off, when the flight was called back.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 06, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 101 words Type of Material: Correction
FAA licenses--A headline on a Section A story Friday about the Federal Aviation Administration revoking the licenses of two pilots misidentified the airline for which the pilots had worked. It is America West Airlines, not American West.

To renew their licenses, the two pilots would have to enter a rehabilitation program and agree to continued testing and monitoring. America West, which has a policy forbidding alcohol use within 12 hours of flying, announced Wednesday that both pilots had been fired.

The case of Cloyd and Hughes is fairly unusual, according to the FAA, which instituted a program in the 1970s to identify pilots who might have substance abuse problems. A rehabilitation program with follow-ups helps pilots and seven other "safety-sensitive" categories of airline personnel get help rather than try to hide their problems, Brown said.

The FAA now requires all airlines to test pilots and other categories of workers for substance abuse--including random testing, post-accident testing, reasonable-suspicion-of-misuse testing, tests after a return to duty and follow-ups after a return to duty.

In 2000, the FAA said, 10,257 random tests nationwide were performed on pilots for alcohol abuse and five violations were reported. Fifteen tests for reasonable suspicion found four violations. But there were no violations found from 113 post-accident tests, 32 follow-up tests and two return-to-duty tests, Brown added.

In 2001, there were nine violations among pilots. Before the Cloyd and Hughes case, there were seven violations among pilots this year. All, like the two America West pilots, were found on the basis of reasonable suspicion.

FAA officials claim that their program on substance abuse, which relies on self-reporting and peer pressure, has a higher success rate among pilots than in most other industries, Brown said.

Cloyd had twice before been arrested on charges related to alcohol abuse: In 2000, when he was sentenced to two years' probation for disorderly conduct, and in 1998, for misdemeanor domestic assault on his then-wife. He subsequently took an anger management course in order to get the assault charge dropped, Arizona authorities said.

Both men now face a felony charge in Florida for operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol; each was also charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. They were released on $7,000 bond each and returned to their homes in Arizona. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.

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