Delta Pilot Arrested for Flying While Drunk

( – In June 2023, Edinburgh News reported that Scotland Police arrested Delta Air Lines pilot Lawrence Russell Jr. before he was scheduled to fly a Boeing 767 from Edinburgh to New York. Authorities found the Georgia pilot’s alcohol level was allegedly above the legal limit for flight. As a result, the flight was canceled and travelers made other arrangements to travel to the states. He was released on bail.

On March 6, Business Insider reported that Russell pleaded guilty to the charge of reporting for pilot duty while impaired by drugs or alcohol. After his plea, he was remanded by the court pending sentencing at the end of this month. His lawyer told the court that Russell had been receiving treatment for alcoholism at the time of his arrest. One stipulation for his release was that he had to agree not to fly in UK airspace until after the case against him was over.

When Russell arrived at work that day nearly a year ago, security discovered two bottles of Jägermeister in his luggage. The BBC reported that one of them was half empty, so they decided to give the pilot a breathalyzer before allowing him to fly. He failed the test. Russell’s levels were reported as having at least “49mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.” That’s more than twice the legal limit for pilots, other aircrew, and air traffic controllers. That level is 20mg per the same volume of blood.

Delta sent an email to the New York Post about the matter after Russell’s arrest in 2023, stating it was “investigat[ing] the matter” and confirmed the pilot had been removed pending the outcome. The airline previously stated it has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy. Given the pilot’s disease, it’s unclear how the airline will proceed.

Reports about the sentencing later this month didn’t specify possible punishments for the 63-year-old.

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