Blood Test Clears AA Pilot Accused of Drinking

DFW flight to Cancun, Mexico, delayed several hours

American Airlines pulled a pilot off a flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after someone reported he had been drinking, but a blood test later turned up no evidence of alcohol or drugs, an airline source said late Wednesday.

It happened as Flight 1211 was getting ready to leave the gate for Cancun, Mexico, on Wednesday afternoon.

The flight, originally set to take off at 4:30 p.m., was delayed for a few hours while the airline called in another pilot and then heavy rain delayed the flight even longer. It eventually took off about four hours later.

In a statement Thursday, the Allied Pilots Association said the pilot removed himself from the flight and voluntarily underwent testing after he was accused of using alcohol before the flight.

"While the ensuing flight delay was regrettable, when faced with a false accusation of this magnitude, our pilot absolutely did the right thing to remove himself in order to eliminate any doubt about his condition," the union said in the statement.

Federal rules forbid pilots from drinking any alcohol at least eight hours before a flight, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

The FAA was aware of Wednesday’s incident and was allowing American Airlines to investigate the matter internally, Lunsford said. He added American has an approved drug- and alcohol-testing program.

It was unclear who made the initial accusation against the pilot, but a second source familiar with the incident said it was a co-worker.

"It is extremely unfortunate that a false accusation was made," the Allied Pilots Association said. "Actual incidents involving inappropriate alcohol consumption by commercial airline pilots are exceedingly rare. Our pilots are consummate professionals in a safety-sensitive business, and they take their responsibilities for life and property seriously."

DFW Airport police were not involved in the investigation, airport spokesman David Magana said.

NBCDFW's Scott Friedman contributed to this report.

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