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May 24, 2005
Defense says America West pilots not drunk

Remember the two America West pilots accused of being drunk in the cockpit. Well, their defense attorney says they are not guilty bceacuse they were never in control of the plane because it was being towed by a runway vehicle:

"Because the Airbus 319 bound for Phoenix was being towed from its gate at Miami International Airport, the steering was disengaged and neither pilot Thomas Cloyd nor co-pilot Christopher Hughes could operate the plane.

The driver of the tow vehicle was maneuvering the airliner, not the pilots, said attorney Daniel Foodman. The jet was inoperable at all times the two defendants were in the cockpit."

The pilots face up to five years in prison if convicted. They have been fired by the airline and have lost their commercial pilots' licenses.

Prosecutor Hillah Katz told the jury that both pilots had breath-alcohol levels above Florida's 0.08 percent limit after they were arrested. She said the argument that they were not operating the aircraft was ludicrous. "Operation is much more than flying that aircraft," Katz said.

Prosecutors say Cloyd and Hughes ran up a $122 bar tab and consumed 14 beers at a popular Coconut Grove sports bar after having dinner with drinks. They left the bar early in the morning, six hours before the flight was to depart.

The July 1, 2002, incident began when airport security workers noticed a strong odor of alcohol as the two pilots prepared to board the plane.

Source: ABC

Posted by Gus on May 24, 2005 09:39 AM


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