Frontier flight to Milwaukee delayed due to suspected drunk pilot

Frontier flight to Milwaukee delayed due to suspected drunk pilot

By Jay Sorgi and the Associated Press. CREATED Feb 16, 2012 - UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

OMAHA - FAA officials are investigating a reported incident where a pilot may have been drunk just before that pilot was supposed to fly a Frontier Airlines flight from Omaha to Milwaukee.

Frontier says its Flight 1894 to Milwaukee was scheduled to leave Omaha's Eppley Airfield at 6 a.m. but was delayed for nearly two hours over what it called concern about a crew member that had not reported for the flight.

The airline also confirmed that it is investigating allegations of impairment, but did not say that the pilot was involved in the allegations or if the pilot even reached the plane.

Passengers told TODAY'S TMJ4's Jermont Terry they boarded on time, but then found out minutes later that there was a problem with the pilot.

The passengers claimed they sat on the plane for hours, de-planed, then saw the police escort the pilot out of the airport.

"They can't really say whether or not the guy was drunk, but when police officers take a pilot out of the airport, something's wrong," said Ryan Spoerl, a passenger who was on that flight. 

"If they hadn't caught him, he would have got on the plane and flew me back home, potentially drunk."

An FAA spokeswoman told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Michelle Richards that they hold pilots to a higher standard when it comes to blood-alcohol concentration than law enforcement does for drivers.

"Pilots are prohibited from flying or performing any other safety-sensitive function within eight hours of consuming alcohol or if they have an alcohol concentration of .04 or higher," said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

The pilot was not arrested.