Police said a first officer’s blood alcohol content was 0.3, or seven times the legal limit, when he was tested at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan, last Thursday and removed from the cockpit of a Talon Air Challenger 604 charter flight. The captain of the flight, Manny Ramirez, reportedly noticed that the first officer “smelled of alcohol and slurred his speech,” according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Ramirez called the dispatch office, and police were called to the cockpit. The first officer told police he’d had nothing to drink since two beers at lunch the day before. He was arraigned on Friday and entered a not-guilty plea.
“We are very proud of Captain Manny Ramirez’immediate action in detecting the co-pilot’s condition and removing him from his position,” Talon Air said in a statement to local news media. Talon Air said the first officer, who was identified in local news reports as Sean Fitzgerald, 35, of Boca Raton, Florida, was “immediately terminated” after the incident. Fitzgerald could face up to 93 days in jail or a minimum fine of $100 under local laws. He was released on personal recognizance but is prohibited from flying until the case is settled. A hearing is set for Sept. 8.