American Airlines pilot in custody for failing sobriety tests

A spokesperson at Detroit Metro Airport has confirmed that an American Airlines pilot was taken into custody Saturday morning, facing several charges after failing two sobriety tests.

According to airport officials, the pilot was entering crew check in the North Terminal Saturday morning just before 7 a.m. when TSA agents notified airport police that the pilot was exhibiting behaviors of possibly being under the influence of alcohol.

The pilot was detained and an on-site breathalyzer test was performed. The pilot, who is either 50 or 51 years old from Pennsylvania, failed two sobriety tests, and was then taken into custody by airport police.

According to airport officials, police will finish their investigation and submit charges to the Wayne County Prosecutor's office.

American Airlines confirmed the situation in a statement Saturday, "American Airlines Flight 736 from Detroit to Philadelphia has been canceled and we are currently re-accommodating our customers on other flights. Safety is our highest priority and we apologize to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans. We are assisting local law enforcement. Further questions should be referred to them."

The incident has passengers asking if flight crews need to be checked as a precaution before flying a plane.

It actually is scary especially because me sending my 18-year-old to North Carolina. I'm kinda putting her life in their hands, so it's making me a little bit nervous now to send her off on this flight," said D'Aundra Hines.

Her daughter, Kendra Hines, agreed the situation is "scary."

"We're supposed to be on an airplane and it's supposed to be stafe, and you have someone drunk while they're flying the plane," she said. "That's just crazy."

Mike Conway, Detroit Metro Airport spokesperson said that although he doesn't have all the details on the case yet, agents had reason to believe the pilot had been drinking alcohol.

The incident also raised another question: "How many others have slipped through the cracks?" D'Aundra Hines said.

Conway said that's a question for the agency that regulates the pilot quality.

"The airlines have routine testing," he said. "The (Federal Aviation Administration) sets standards and our police respond when called but our police do not routinely check flight crews."

The pilot himself was released, but his name has not been released.