Calm, Collected Pilots Accused Of Being Drunk

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Well, so much for the image of the unflappable, cool-under-fire, steely-nerved pilot. Chances are, others will just think you're drunk. That's what happened to the crew of a British Airways flight from Lyon, France, to Manchester, England, on Jan. 16. The pilots got a warning light when they lowered the gear on the RJ100, so the plane went around. It made another pass to allow tower controllers to check that the gear was down. The plane subsequently landed safely and the light was discovered to be faulty. But one of the passengers thought the pilots' demeanor didn't match the gravity of the situation and suggested they must have been drinking. Authorities took that threat seriously. Manchester Airport police ordered the pilots to take breath tests, both of which were negative. "It's very disappointing that a passenger would assume just because a pilot was carrying out a normal safety procedure that he had been drinking when he had not been drinking at all," said BA spokeswoman Sue Redmond. The airline and the pilots' union have both complained to the police.