CALGARY – A Sunwing Airlines pilot faces charges after police allege he was impaired before takeoff.
Police say the pilot boarded the Boeing 737 in Calgary early Saturday for a flight that was scheduled to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.
But before it took off, police say the gate crew as well as crewmembers on the aircraft indicated he was behaving strangely.
Police allege he passed out in the cockpit.
The pilot was escorted from the plane and has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while being impaired, as well as one count of having a blood-alcohol level exceeding .08 while in care and control of an aircraft.
Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Massey says in an email that the suspect was the captain, and the airline praised the rest of the crew for handling what it calls a “very unfortunate matter.”
“We can confirm that shortly before 7 a.m. local time, the gate agents, first officer and crew of Sunwing flight 595, departing from Calgary and destined for Cancun, determined that the captain was unfit to fly and reported this accordingly,” Massey stated.
“The captain was immediately escorted off of the aircraft and the incident is now under investigation with local authorities.”
Police said there were 99 passengers on the flight and six crew. They said the pilot’s name will be released after he has appeared before a justice of the peace.
Sunwing said the plane took off a short time later with another captain.
“We are very apologetic for any upset that this has caused and would like to assure our customers that safety remains our utmost priority,” Massey said.