American Pilot Jailed Abroad For Trying To Fly While Drunk

(Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

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An American pilot was jailed Tuesday in Scotland for being intoxicated while due to fly a transatlantic Delta Air Lines flight, Scottish prosecutors announced.

Captain Lawrence Russell, 63, a Delta Air Lines pilot, pleaded guilty to “reporting for duty as a pilot while being impaired through alcohol,” Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said in a statement. Russell was sentenced to a 10-month prison term at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, according to the statement.

Russell, in his uniform and lanyard with “Delta” emblazoned on it, was scheduled to fly a Boeing 767 plane from Edinburgh to New York’s JFK Airport June 16, 2023 when an X-ray machine rejected his carry-on baggage, according to the COPFS. The baggage reportedly was found to contain two bottles of Jägermeister, one of which was already opened and half-empty.

Russell “failed a breath test at 9.30 am and later a sample of blood was taken which showed Russell had not less than 49 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood,” the COPFS said. The legal limit is 20 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, according to the statement.

Russell reportedly admitted he owned the alcohol found in his baggage. (RELATED: REPORT: Pilot Arrested In Scotland After Allegedly Showing Up Drunk For NYC-Bound Flight)

Sheriff Alison Stirling, who sentenced Russell, said he imposed the sentence for “punishment [and the] protection of the public” while observing that Russell had been twice convicted in the U.S. for driving under the influence, The Guardian reported.

Describing Russell as “remorseful,” Russell’s attorney Pamela Rodgers told the court that Russell was a recovering alcoholic who had been sober for 277 days and had completed the 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous program, the report noted.

“Lawrence Russell’s conduct would have endangered many lives; the consequences could have been catastrophic,” Lynne Barrie, a prosecutor, argued, according to the COPFS. “He showed a reckless disregard for the safety of his passengers and crew. The pilot of a commercial aircraft holds the lives of hundreds in his hands. He would have put all of them at serious risk.”

“Delta was aware of this incident and removed the pilot from service while conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with Scottish authorities,” Delta Air Lines reportedly told Business Insider.