COUNTY NEWS: ‘Drunk’ pilot arrested by police on flight

A BA plane at Gatwick Airport. File photo
A BA plane at Gatwick Airport. File photo

A British Airways pilot was escorted off a packed flight at Gatwick Airport by armed police moments before take-off after crew suspected he was drunk.

Staff on the flight to Mauritius thought they could smell alcohol on him and called 999, as reported in the national press.

A source told the Sun that the first officer was led away in handcuffs in front of shocked passengers on Thursday evening (January 18).

The flight was due to leave Gatwick at 8.20pm but was delayed by more than two hours in order to find a replacement pilot.

A British airways spokesman said: “We’re taking this matter extremely seriously and are assisting the police with their inquiries.

“We are sorry for the delay to our customers. The aircraft remained at the gate until an alternative third pilot joined the flight crew.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “At about 8.25pm on Thursday (January 18), police received a report of a member of airline staff suspected to have been under the influence of alcohol at Gatwick Airport.

“A 49-year-old man from Harmondsworth, West Drayton, Hillingdon, was arrested on suspicion of performing an aviation function when the level of alcohol was over the prescribed limit.”