UPDATE: Leeds-Bradford Airport pilot pleads guilty to being impaired by drink (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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UPDATE: Leeds-Bradford Airport pilot pleads guilty to being impaired by drink
4:10pm Friday 20th September 2013 in News
An airline pilot arrested at Leeds Bradford Airport has admitted to being more than four times over the legal alcohol limit.
Leeds Magistrates Court heard that Irfan Faiz, 54, of Pakistan, was spotted walking unsteadily and smelling of drink before he boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight at about 10pm on Wednesday, September 18.
Airport managers contacted the police who arrested Mr Faiz in the cockpit of the Pakistan-bound aircraft, which he was due to fly, as he was making pre-flight checks.
He was charged with 'carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function while impaired by drink', to which he pleaded guilty.
Chairman of the magistrates bench James McAuley told him: "By your actions you breached the trust of the public who must be comfortable that when they travel they are safe to travel.
"The consequences could have been serious loss of life if an accident had occurred.
"Thankfully, the actions of the managers at Leeds Bradford Airport prevented that."
Martin Townend, prosecuting, stressed the gravity of the offence, stating: "There was a potential that the plane would have been flown by a drunk pilot".
He added that suspicions had been raised at the Yeadon airport when "a number of managers noticed Mr Faiz was unsteady on his feet and smelled of intoxicants."
Yousuf Khan, representing the pilot, asked if the case could be dealt with by the magistrates - which would have meant a maximum possible sentence of six months in prison.
He said: "He is 54 and effectively his career will be over which is, in effect, a punishment as is the shame he will experience when he returns to Pakistan."
The court heard that that Mr Faiz had flown with Pakistan International Airlines for 25 years with an unblemished record, and had no previous convictions.
But the magistrates decided the case was so serious it would have to be sentenced at crown court, and refused to grant bail.
Mr Faiz, whose British address was given as Oxford Street, Oldham - where he has family - will be remanded in custody until October 18, when he is due to appear at Leeds Crown Court at 9.30am.
Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of Council for Mosques Bradford: said: “I find it unbelievable that a professional pilot of a major international airline could behave so despicably as to place at risk the life of passengers and colleagues.
“We will be raising this matter with the management of PIA and the Pakistan High Commission. We will ask for robust measures to prevent the repeat of this type of behaviour.
“The passenger safety must come first.”