Alcohol And Aircraft

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Brits Set Stiff Limits For Some...

Britain has set strict blood-alcohol limits for airline and air traffic personnel, changing a longstanding law that simply made it illegal for them to work if they were alcohol-impaired. Pilots, cabin crew and controllers now will be breaking the law if found with more than .02 percent alcohol in their systems, which is the lowest point at which tests are reliable. Mechanics could theoretically nip down to the pub for lunch and still legally do their jobs, however. Their limit is set at .08 percent, the same as the legal driving limit in Britain. The government explained the difference by saying that mechanics aren't required to react to emergencies with the same speed as flight crews. Police also now have the power to order alcohol tests on suspected offenders. "The action we have taken ... has brought aviation into line with other modes of transport, which have had legal alcohol limits for years," said Aviation Minister Tony McNulty. Those who bust the limits face fines of up to $9,000 USD and/or two years in jail. In the U.S. and many other countries, the legal limit for pilots is .04. The new limits will apply to all pilots, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and licensed aircraft maintenance engineers within the U.K., regardless of nationality, and to the crews of U.K.-registered aircraft anywhere in the world. No distinction will be drawn between the commercial and leisure sectors and the limits will apply to anyone who is flying or working with aircraft in their free time.