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Aeroflot blames passengers for drunk pilot


Aeroflot blames passengers for drunk pilot

Old 02-07-2009, 03:06 PM
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Default Aeroflot blames passengers for drunk pilot

From Times Online February 3, 2009

Passengers stop flight after 'drunk' pilot sparks panic
(Dmitry Pedrodchenko/Reuters)

Tony Halpin in Moscow
It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.

His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.

Flight attendants initially ignored passengers' complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped "making trouble". As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.

One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was "not such a big deal" if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.

Mr Cheplevsky did little to ease passengers' fears by refusing to leave the cockpit to show that he was sober. When he was finally persuaded to face them, witnesses said that he appeared unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot eyes.

"I don't think there's anyone in Russia who doesn't know what a drunk person looks like," Katya Kushner, one of the passengers, told the Moscow Times, which had a reporter travelling on the flight.

"At first, he was looking at us like we were crazy. Then, when we wouldn't back down, he said 'I'll sit here quietly in a corner. We have three more pilots. I won't even touch the controls, I promise'."

Aeroflot's bad day got worse when it emerged that the socialite and television host Ksenia Sobchak was on board. Ms Sobchak, one of Russia's best-known personalities, demanded that all four pilots be replaced.

The airline finally relented and summoned new pilots to fly the jet to New York three hours late. More than 100 passengers passed the time as they waited by signing a petition declaring that they believed Mr Cheplevsky had been drunk.

Ms Sobchak told Ekho Moskvy radio a few days later that she believed the pilot had been in no condition to fly. She said: "It took him three attempts to say the words 'duration of flight'. Even after Aeroflot personnel asked him to do so, he barely made it out of the cabin."

An Aeroflot spokeswoman said that tests had revealed no trace of alcohol in the pilot's blood. She blamed "mass psychosis" among passengers for the decision to replace the crew, although the company later issued a statement saying that Mr Cheplevsky could have suffered a stroke just before the flight.

The pilot told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that he had been celebrating his 54th birthday with friends the night before the flight on December 28, but insisted that he not been drinking.

The row is a public relations setback for an airline that has worked hard to overcome its "Aeroflop" image. In the Soviet era, it was known for its unsmiling air hostesses, poor customer service and inedible food.

It came just months after an Aeroflot subsidiary was involved in Russia's worst air disaster for two years, when a jet crashed in the Urals city of Perm killing 88 passengers and crew. The airline banned subsidiaries from using its name and logo after the crash in September, saying it wanted to protect its safety record.

The newspaper Kommersant reported this week that investigators had found traces of alcohol in the blood of the captain who flew that jet. But they were unable to state whether it was the reason that he felt "sickly" shortly before surrendering the controls to another crew member as the plane was due to land.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: Aeroflot blames passengers for drunk pilot

There is no way on this planet I would fly on AeroFlop. Hell, I'm nervous enough to just fly, scared of some US airlines that contract out their maintenance to Chinese low bidders. I prefer the Japanese airlines, tho in recent months they too have been dealing with pilots and alcohol.

I have faith in the Japanese culture's ability to maintain their aircraft to high standards.

JAL's record:

February 9, 1982 – Japan Air Lines Flight 350, a Douglas DC-8-61, crashed on approach to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda). Among the 166 passengers and 8 crew, 24 passengers were killed.

August 12, 1985 – Japan Air Lines Flight 123, a Boeing 747, crashes into Mount Osutaka after catastrophic failure of the tailplane severs all hydraulic lines and renders the aircraft uncontrollable. 520 of 524 people on board are killed. To date, it is the worst single-aircraft disaster in history.

I saw a program on the Discovery Channel about that Aug 12, 1985 JAL crash; personnel from Boeing (Washington) traveled to Japan to install the tailplane section that failed. The Boeing workers installed the section backward, resulting in failure of the rivets, causing the plane to crash.

ANA's record:

February 4, 1966 – All Nippon Airways Flight 60, a Boeing 727-100, crashed into Tokyo Bay, Japan. All 133 aboard were killed.

November 13, 1966 – All Nippon Airways Flight 533, a NAMC YS-11, plunged into Seto Inland Sea after an overrun at Matsuyama Airport, Shikoku, Japan, killing all 50 passengers and crew.


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