A Sunwing pilot who passed out drunk in the cockpit was never going to get the chance to take off, says the airline.
In an email response to a concerned customer, social media agent Laura Rebenek explained the flight crew detected 37-year-old Miroslav Gronych’s intoxication before he boarded the plane in Calgary.
“Our gate agents and crew accurately assessed and immediately reported the situation,” she said. “The crew awaited the appropriate security personnel to escort him to authorities.”
Rebenek added there are a number of “checks and balances” within the airline that would prevent an intoxicated pilot from flying one of their planes.
Gronych was charged with having care and control of an aircraft while impaired and having a blood alcohol level over .08.
His lawyer appeared in Calgary court Thursday, where the pilot’s case was put over until Jan. 25.
AIRLINE, FEDERAL POLICIES
Rebenek also assured the customer Sunwing has a “zero tolerance” policy for alcohol consumption, adding the airline requires flight crew to abstain from alcohol consumption for 12 hours prior to flying.
Transportation Canada’s regulations mandate an eight-hour alcohol free period before flights.
However, detecting consumption can be a tricky legal procedure.
A 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision bans employers from engaging in random drug and alcohol tests, even in high-risk industries. Tests can only be mandated pre-employment, or if the employer can establish an employee has a substance abuse problem.
Rebenek noted in her email Gronych had no previous incidents in his file.
GARNEAU ASKS AIRLINES TO REVIEW POLICIES
While the Supreme Court limits testing capabilities, Transportation Minister Marc Garneau is asking airlines operating in Canada to review their policies surrounding the determination of a pilot’s “fitness to fly.”
“While standard protocols and quick crew action did address the recent incident, we all collectively have a responsibility to make sure our systems are robust enough to prevent such incidents in the future,” he said in a letter to commercial air carriers.
The minister asked airlines to report back by Feb. 15 on those policies.
Transportation Canada is also organizing a workshop in the spring for companies, unions and medical experts to explore if further regulations are needed.
The following email from Sunwing has not been edited; however, names and email addresses have been redacted for privacy.