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JetBlue pilot accused of being drunk removed from flight at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Posted at 3:19 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 10:00:28-05

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A JetBlue pilot accused of being drunk was removed from the cockpit of a flight at Buffalo Niagara International Airport Wednesday.

According to an NFTA spokesperson, the pilot was passing through security Wednesday when a TSA officer noticed the pilot may have been impaired. NFTA police were notified, the pilot was removed from the cockpit of the plane and given a breathalyzer test and registered a blood alcohol content of 0.17.

The pilot has been identified as 52-year-old James Clifton of Orlando, Florida. Clifton was taken into custody and federal authorities were notified. He was released to JetBlue security and may face federal charges.

The flight, JetBlue 2465, was delayed four hours and 10 minutes according to data from FlightAware.

JetBlue released the following statement Wednesday saying in part the pilot has been removed from his duties:

The safety of JetBlue’s customers and crewmembers is our first priority. 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.

The FAA issued the following statement:

The FAA is investigating allegations that an airline pilot attempted to report for duty while under the influence of alcohol. The agency takes these matters seriously.

According to ABC News, FAA drug and alcohol regulation prohibits pilots from:

  • Consuming alcohol while on-duty or within eight hours of performing flight duties
  • Flying or attempting to fly an aircraft within eight hours of consuming alcohol or if they have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater

Statement from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents JetBlue pilots:

The airline piloting profession in North America is one of the most highly scrutinized careers, and airline pilots’ professionalism has contributed to making air transportation the safest form of transport for passengers and air cargo shippers.