A JetBlue pilot allegedly flew while drunk last year from Orlando to New York City, according to a criminal complaint.
Dennis Murphy Jr. appeared in federal court on Wednesday and was released on $50,000 bond, The Associated Press reported.
Flight 584, carrying 151 passengers, had just landed at Kennedy Airport on April 21, 2015, when Murphy was selected for a random alcohol test, the AP said. The test revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.11. The legal limit for pilots is 0.04.
A second test 15 minutes later measured a 0.091 reading, the New York Daily News reported.
“During the walk to the onsite testing office at JFK Airport, Murphy’s face was red and he was chewing gum rapidly,” the Daily News quoted the complaint, adding the Murphy blamed the test results on the gum he was chewing.
Murphy, 44, was grounded immediately and resigned from JetBlue, which has a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy, according to the Daily News.
He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Murphy also piloted Flight 583 with 119 passengers aboard from JFK to Orlando, Florida, that day. The co-pilot said Murphy was red-faced and drinking an unknown beverage from a cup before and during his flights.
Murphy, who lives in Ramsey, New Jersey, and was hired by JetBlue in January 2015, checked himself into rehab and has been working as a substitute teacher, the New York Post reported.
Since 1995, 255 commercial airline pilots have tested above the legal blood-alcohol limit, the AP noted.
The Air Line Pilots Association International released a statement saying, "it is important to note that instances of substance abuse are extremely rare among the approximately 100,000 professional airline pilots in the United States who safely fly passengers and cargo on more than 27,000 flights every day. The airline piloting profession in North America is one of the most highly scrutinized careers, and airline pilots’ professionalism has contributed to making flying the safest form of transport for passengers and air cargo shippers," ABC News reported.
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