s aviation accident attorneys, it is not often that we feel compelled to report on plane crashes that didn’t happen. However, news reports of an incident that occurred over the past weekend describe a case of pilot negligence so extreme that it bears repeating as evidence that not even major airlines are immune to egregious misconduct that may lead to tragic and disastrous consequences.
CNN reports that on Saturday, December 29, a Boeing 373 operated by Sunwing budget airline had been boarded by more than 100 people in preparation for a flight from Calgary, Canada destined for Cancun, Mexico. Gate crew members and crew on board the aircraft noticed that the pilot, Miroslav Gronych, 37, had been “behaving oddly” for some time, so they notified the co-pilot scheduled to assist during the flight. When this co-pilot entered the cockpit to assess the situation, he found Gronych “slumped over” in the pilot’s seat, unconscious and apparently drunk, says the New York Times.
Police were contacted, and Gronych was escorted from the plane. According to a police statement, “Initial tests conducted by police indicate the pilot was severely impaired by alcohol.” In fact, two full hours after Gronych was arrested for having control of an aircraft while impaired his blood alcohol was three times higher than the legal limit of 0.08.
In a statement obtained by CNN from CBC News, Calgary police spokesman Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey said, “It had all the potential for a disaster, but I’ll tell you this much — the likelihood of a pilot on a major airline like this actually being able to take off when they’re impaired like that is pretty slim, because there’s a lot of checks and balances. There’s the other flight crew and there’s gate crew and they’re all about safety.”
After Gronych was removed from the plane, another pilot was called in and the flight took off following a brief delay. Sunwing Vacations issued the following statement on the incident:
We would like to take the opportunity to advise you of an incident that occurred earlier this morning.
We can confirm that shortly before 7 a.m. local time, the gate agents, first officer, and crew of Sunwing flight 595, departing from Calgary and destined for Cancun, determined that the Captain was unfit to fly and reported this accordingly. The Captain was immediately escorted off of the aircraft and the incident is now under investigation with local authorities. We are very appreciative of our crew’s diligence in handling this very unfortunate matter in accordance with procedures. We were able to secure a new Captain and are pleased to report that our customers are now en route to their destination after experiencing a minimal delay.
We are very apologetic for any upset that this has caused and would like to assure our customers that safety remains our utmost priority.
In this case, Gronych was so very intoxicated that it was immediately obvious to those around him that he was highly impaired and unable to fly the plane. In other cases, however, it may not be easily noticeable when pilots or crew members are ill-equipped to perform their duties—and this can present serious dangers. One factor which has been a suspected contributor to plane crashes is pilot fatigue, which can severely impact decision-making skills, reflexes, and the ability to remain alert.
Fortunately for the passengers and crew on board this potentially doomed flight, the danger was averted. Still, this story is an important reminder of just one of the many factors that could cause or contribute to a plane crash, along with issues like improper plane maintenance, defective parts, crew or pilot error, and others. If you have suffered a serious injury or the loss of a loved one during an aviation accident, it is possible that negligence played a role. To learn more about how an experienced plane crash lawyer can help you investigate the situation and hold any and all negligent parties accountable, please contact us for a free legal consultation.