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Pilot Suspended for Exceeding Alcohol Limit

Aussie airline Qantas replaces a passenger pilot just as she's taxiing towards the runway.

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By Chrisanne Grise

08/06/12

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Qantas Airways has suspended a pilot for attempting to fly a plane while under the influence of alcohol. Authorities say the woman exceeded the limit for pilots of 0.02% alcohol in the blood in a test. She was caught last Monday as she was about to fly a Boeing 767-300 from Sydney to Brisbane. Flight attendants suspected she'd been drinking and reported it to airline operations managers. The plane was actually in the process of taxiing towards the runway when management made the decision to have the pilot stand down and replace her with another. Right now, she's being "withheld from duties on full pay" while the incident is investigated. Although Qantas representatives aren't at liberty to discuss the case, the investigation is expected to take about a month and the pilot will be interviewed next week. Incidents like this are extremely rare—since 2008, only 45 pilots have exceeded the alcohol limit in 51,000 tests in Australia, and none worked for Qantas, officials say. Qantas is renowned for a sterling safety record, with zero fatal accidents—a record that may have been at risk last week.

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