Human Resources News & Insights

‘So what if the pilot’s drunk? The plane flies itself’

Would co-workers cover up for an employee in a safety-sensitive position who might be drunk on the job?

Passengers on an Aeroflot flight that was about to take off for New York from Moscow recently insisted that a pilot was drunk and that he be replaced.

Alexander Cheplevsky slurred his words when he made his “welcome to flight 315″ speech over the plane’s speakers. Then he switched from Russian to unintelligible English.

Flight attendants initially ignored passengers’ complaints and threatened to expel them from the jet unless they stopped making trouble, according to The Moscow Times, which had a reporter on the aircraft.

One attendant allegedly told passengers that it wasn’t a big deal if he was drunk because the plane practically flew itself.

Cheplevsky eventually gave into passengers’ demands to show himself. Witnesses say he appeared unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot eyes.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in Russia who doesn’t know what a drunk person looks like,” said passenger Katya Kushner.

After Aeroflot representatives entered the aircraft, passengers demanded a whole new team of pilots. They got one three hours later.

Passengers may have been thinking about a Russian air disaster just two months ago. An Aeroflot subsidiary’s plane crashed, killing all 88 passengers and crew.

Investigators had found traces of alcohol in the blood of the captain who flew that doomed jet. The pilot turned over the controls to another crew member when he felt sick just before landing.

Aeroflot says there was no alcohol in Cheplevsky’s blood, but later added that he may have had a stroke just before the flight.

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