Henry Blackshaw secures suspended sentence for intoxicated airline pilot

The defendant is a long-haul captain with American Airlines, which is the closest that the USA has to a flag carrier and is the world’s largest airline.

In February 2019 he had been on a two-night stopover in Manchester, prior to flying the return leg of a flight from Philadelphia.

Having consumed alcohol late in the previous evening he caught the attention of the security staff at Manchester Airport when he reported for duty to take command of his aircraft. He had assumed his duties in the cockpit before being asked to take a screening test, which he failed and was then arrested and required to provide a blood test, which was over the prescribed limit for “performing an aviation function”.

Having pleaded guilty at the Magistrates Court he was committed for sentence to Minshull Street Crown Court.

The defendant was at significant risk of receiving an immediate custodial sentence.
This outcome was avoided with the deployment of strong mitigation concerning his work record, his ongoing prospects and personal circumstances.

He was also assisted by the fact that he was being supported by American Airlines through a rehabilitation programme. This is the HIMS (Human Intervention Motivation Study) programme which is run in conjunction with the FAA (the American aviation regulator). It is an intense regime designed to treat and support aircrew so that they can recover from any substance abuse or dependencies and so enable and accelerate their return to work.

The court was also swayed by reference to the American law and regulations, which showed that the detected level of alcohol in the defendant’s blood was sufficiently low that it would not have triggered criminal liability within the jurisdiction of the USA.

Henry, who has an expertise in aviation matters, was instructed by Jane Novas-Morrell at Olliers Solicitors.