• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

The Editorial Board: After near-miss at gate, airline industry needs better protection from impaired pilots | Editorial

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Mar 4, 2022

In Buffalo, police now have a “legal duty to intervene” if they see another officer using excessive force. For crew members of any aircraft, self-preservation may be reason enough to intervene when the pilot is in a loop, but maybe it’s not enough. Maybe there should be a positive requirement.

Ignition locks help prevent some drivers from turning the ignition on before a breath test declares their sobriety. Given the heightened level of risk in an aircraft – in flight, moving at hundreds of miles an hour, often with dozens of passengers on board – perhaps similar confirmation should be required before a pilot, or any crew member, can even board an aircraft.

As for Clifton, the police handed him over to the custody of JetBlue security. Federal authorities have been notified and he could face charges, the NFTA said.

In response to the incident, JetBlue sought reassurance. “The safety of JetBlue’s customers and crew members is our first priority,” he said in a statement, citing a “very strict internal policy of zero tolerance for alcohol” and its full cooperation with the police. In addition, he added, the company is conducting its own internal investigation and Clifton has been removed from his position.

That’s entirely appropriate, but JetBlue should look beyond that and conduct an industry-wide project to rule out the possibility that a commercial jet could even allow a drunk pilot to board a plane.