Cops: JetBlue Pilot Yanked From Cockpit Had BAC of 0.17%

The Florida man could face federal charges
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2022 2:02 AM CST
Pilot Pulled From Cockpit With BAC 4x the Legal Limit: Cops
In this March 16, 2017, file photo, a Jet Blue airplane at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

A JetBlue plane was about to depart Wednesday morning when the pilot was pulled from the cockpit and taken into police custody. James Clifton, 52, had passed through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Buffalo Niagara International Airport when TSA agents observed that he appeared to be impaired. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority was alerted, and NFTA police removed him from his duties, Buffalo News reports.

Authorities say he blew a 0.17% blood-alcohol level on a Breathalyzer test, more than four times the legal limit for pilots. Police say he admitted to having had seven or eight drinks the night prior, ABC 7 reports. The flight was delayed more than four hours as a result, WKBW reports. The blood-alcohol concentration for pilots is set by the Federal Aviation Administration at 0.04%, half of what it is for drivers, and a pilot is not allowed to drink alcohol within 8 hours of flying. Federal authorities were notified of the situation, and Clifton could face federal charges.

"The safety of JetBlue’s customers and crewmembers is our first priority," the airline says in a statement. "We adhere to all DOT rules and requirements concerning alcohol at all times and have a very strict zero tolerance internal alcohol policy. We are aware of the incident that occurred this morning in Buffalo and are cooperating fully with law enforcement. We are also conducting our own internal investigation. The crewmember involved has been removed from his duties." (Read more JetBlue stories.)

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