Pilot Sentenced for Drinking Ahead of Flight

Pilot Sentenced for Drinking Ahead of Flight

(RepublicanPress.org) – In June 2023, Scotland police arrested Delta Airlines pilot Lawrence Barbiers Russell Jr. for showing up to work drunk. While checking in to fly a plane full of passengers from Edinburgh to New York City, security noticed a half-empty bottle of Jägermeister in his carry-on bag. Additionally, his blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit to fly, and he recently pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

On March 19, the 63-year-old pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail. Russell suffers from severe alcohol use disorder but is currently in remission. He completed an alcohol recovery program for pilots to help him on his journey to wellness. But the disease and flight incident didn’t come without cost.

In addition to his prison sentence, Russell lost his job with Delta and was placed on disability. His alcoholism also reportedly caused trouble in his marriage. Still, his family has been supportive throughout the ordeal.

Court Sheriff Alison Stirling wrote a statement about the pilot, stating he had no previous convictions in Britain but had two drunk driving instances on his record — both occurred after the Scotland incident. Stirling indicated that had Russell been able to fly the plane that day, it could have caused serious harm. The pilot’s blood alcohol level was at least 49 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood — the legal limit for pilots is 20 milligrams.

Still, there is a possibility the pilot could get his job back as a pilot at Delta. After completing his sentence in Scotland, Russell will have to apply for a new aviation medical certificate before taking flight again — if it’s approved.

The pilot believes it will be granted and he will be reinstated. Stirling stated Russell was “remorseful” for his actions and noted the defendant’s sentence was reduced based on his personal mitigation and his quick guilty plea.

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