Open Thread

I watched Flight last night, which was really good, btw, but the whole time I watched it I wondered why they don’t just install a breathalyzer in every cockpit. Than do it for cars, why not just do it standard for commercial aircraft. At the very least, have the lead flight attendant administer one to every pilot and have the results recorded and signed as part of the pre-flight checklist.

Why is that such a crazy idea?

62 replies
  1. 1
    Raven says:

    The union probably won’t let them.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    I feel they should have that requirement for bloggers, except that a minimum alcohol or drug content would be required before you could post.

  3. 3
    AxelFoley says:

    Because FREEDOM!, Cole.

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    The unions will never let it happen. Because privacy and potential false positives and 2nd Amendment….

  5. 5
    Schlemizel says:

    cool! the first time in days that I have entered ‘’ and actually ended up at the front page!

    My guess is the airlines don’t want to pay for it and the unions would suggest that it is insulting to their professional members.

  6. 6
    Culture of Truth says:

    Is drunk flying a big problem?

    Is this device malfunctions and registers a false positive, is the whole flight is grounded, or what?

  7. 7
    Dmbeaster says:

    Did not like the movie much myself, but thought it interesting that it was based loosely on the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261, including the inverted flight to attempt to deal with the failed stabilizer.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    not a bad thought, Cole

  10. 10
    gravie says:

    Ha! We watched “Flight” last night as well and it was excellent but since we’re planning a flight to Spain in March, also damned unsettling. Cockpit breathalyzers are a fantastic idea.

  11. 11
    David Koch says:

    breathalyzer? what!? We might as well shred what’s left of our Civil Liberties and skip to the final fascist stage and install Drone technology in the cockpits.

  12. 12
    RSA says:

    According to Patrick Smith, who writes the Ask the Pilot column, pilots are subject to frequent random drug and alcohol tests. (I’ve liked his writing over the years; I think he’s trustworthy.)

    (Not to say that a breathalyzer wouldn’t be a bad idea; but it’s not that no one is ever tested.)

  13. 13


    If the federal govt imposes it as a regulation, neither the union nor the employer can do anything about it.

    They ought to take the breathalyzer when they arrive at the airport for the flight. They don’t need to do it on board.

  14. 14
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    I don’t need to know about this. In 7 days I’ll be on a plane to Germany. I need to sleep during the flight, not worry about the Captain’s BAC.

    Just finished repairing a record player with a problem that had been bugging me for a while. I find that stuff I can see from my desk gets worked on first so I put things I want to finish in plain sight and eventually I get irritated enough to tear into them.

  15. 15
    SatanicPanic says:

    I thought they didn’t really fly the things anyway.

  16. 16
    Lurker says:

    To echo another poster, I’d worry about false positives, too. What if the captain was 100% sober, but he had just taken cough syrup? Would that hork the results?

  17. 17
    Raven says:

    @James E. Powell: adjust your snarkometer now

  18. 18
    Ben Franklin says:

    Yeah, they have breathalyzers you can splice into your car’s ignition, so that it doesn’t start for you when your levels exceed.

    But the airline schedule is sacrosanct. We can’t have passengers inconvenienced, or expensive airport fines for tardy flights.

  19. 19
    Raven says:

    @SatanicPanic: Good friend of mine won a law suit against that notion.

  20. 20
    gene108 says:

    Watching a college basketball game. On the crawl the Paeterno family has their own report criticizing the Freeh report. Why do they want the Sandusky-rapes back in the headlines at all? Sandusky’s in jail for the rest of his life. I’m not sure how they hope to redeem Joe’s legacy now, since Sandusky is in jail.

  21. 21
    Raven says:

    @gene108: What do they lose?

  22. 22
    gene108 says:

    I bought some paprika, when I went to Hungary this past summer. I’m working up the nerve to cook with it, though I’ve never cooked with it before. Any suggestions for cooking ideas?

    Please note I’m a vegetarian.

  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
    gene108 says:


    What do they gain?

    Joe’s dead. Sandusky’s in jail.

    I don’t think there’s book or movie deal at stake. I could be wrong.

  26. 26
    AxelFoley says:

    @David Koch:

    breathalyzer? what!? We might as well shred what’s left of our Civil Liberties and skip to the final fascist stage and install Drone technology in the cockpits.

    Well played, sir.

  27. 27
    graves007 says:

    Its a crazy idea because people have to die first as a result of a drunk pilot before anything changes. Don’t you know anything?

  28. 28
    Raven says:

    @gene108: You don’t think they believe what the are contending? I’m not on board with them in any way but THEY believe.

  29. 29
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    OT? Hey, aren’t the Grammys on the electrical tele-vision set today? I’m not going to watch the show but I’d expect it to be getting some play from BJ-ers.

  30. 30
    Suffern Ace says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: wrong open thread. Try the one above this one.

  31. 31
    Raven says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: You can’t be OT on and open thread.

  32. 32
    Suffern Ace says:

    @Raven: it’s possible. I’m working on the whitepaper.

  33. 33
    Ecks says:

    The world is an infinity of risks that you CAN accommodate given sufficient effort and expense, if you think of it soon enough. If drunk pilots are a sufficiently common risk, then it is worth investing in these types of precautions. And if pilots high on pot and cocaine are a big enough problem we could have blood and piss tests to start the machine. And if people with box cutters are a problem we could reinforce cockpit doors… choices, y’know.

    They ought to take the breathalyzer when they arrive at the airport for the flight. They don’t need to do it on board.

    Taking advantage of the fact that it is impossible to find alcohol inside an airport building?

  34. 34
    Cassidy says:

    @graves007: There are some parents in Newton, Ct who might disagree with that notion.

  35. 35
    muddy says:

    I have a breathalyzer, it cost about $50. Helped someone sober up with it, there was none of this No I didn’t, Yes you did, kind of BS anymore. Worth it at 10X the price, it was a valuable tool for home use in my opinion.

  36. 36
    MikeJ says:

    When John watches Safety Not Guaranteed we’ll have to start testing our people to make sure they’re not time travellers.

    There just don’t seem to be a lot of drunk commercial pilots out there, and HBO’s programming decisions don’t change the real world.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: I know I am being nitpicky here, but, as a one time resident of Newtown, could I please remind you that it is Newtown not Newton. Sorry, pet peeve for years.

  38. 38
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Not nitpicky at all. I know that and must have gotten distracted when typing. Sorry.

  39. 39
    Schlemizel says:


    Google some recipes – but please do it soon. If you got good quality stuff it is losing quality as it sits. Dried spices do not age well. It would be a shame to have spent that money and not get the enjoyment.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: It’s cool. When my family moved there from the Chicago area many years ago, the Newtowners inspired another of my pet peeves – pronouncing the terminal letter in Illinois.

  41. 41
    Schlemizel says:

    Speaking of breathalyzers I saw a great anti-drink driving ad the other day – sorry if I’m the last:

    Dark street, late at night you see a guy walking down the street toward the camera. The an obviously drunk guy stumbles into the scene, He fumbles for his keys & trys several times to unlock his car. By this time the guy walking is by him. He stops, puts out his hand and says “Here, let me help you with that”. The drunk hands him the keys, he throws them as hard as he can across the street. “There, thats better” and walks on.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You obviously needed one of these.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I got in enough fights in middle school without that.

  44. 44
    Suffern ACE says:

    @efgoldman: old one. Only shows up for Zander.

  45. 45

    @Knockabout: Bad news, Cockabout. Cole not only allows Negroes to have opinions on his site that don’t necessarily comport with his own, he gives them administrative privileges.

    But he doesn’t closely monitor the comments, so you should probably send him an email about it.

  46. 46
    minutemaid says:

    Another day another dumb as a sack of hammers post from F@t B@st@rd Christie lover Wr0ng W@y Cole.

  47. 47
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Yup. Goin’ a bit more underground now that my old nym is a little more publicized.

  48. 48
    Mike in NC says:

    Lots of airline pilots are also in the Navy or Air Force Reserve, and are subject to routine random drug testing.

  49. 49
    BGinCHI says:

    We watched Flight last night as well and both me and Mrs. BG thought it sucked major balls.

    In a bad way, that is.

    Seriously. The pseudo-Christian stuff with the poor-me alcoholic bit, grafted onto the main point of the plot: even though he was drunk and high it didn’t matter because he was the only one who could land the plane.


    I could go on but I’m not going to waste my time. I read several reviews today and was floored that it got mostly positive ones.


  50. 50
    trollhattan says:

    It would probably require a lithium-ion battery.


  51. 51
    Jebediah says:

    Because no one else could have landed that plane!

  52. 52
    chopper says:

    sounds like a solution without a problem.

  53. 53
    Schlemizel says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Damn! You know how much better we would be as a nation if the gotdamn TANG had random drug testing back in the 60s & Boy Blunder’s nose problem became a court marshal offense.

  54. 54
    Gustopher says:

    I really think “Flight” would have been a better movie had the pilot just lied on the stand. Who needs another preachy moral scold of a movie? The pilot faces a moral crisis, fails spectacularly, and continues on with his life.

    Closing credits could have featured Lou Reed’s “The Power Of Positive Drinking”.

  55. 55
    namekarB says:

    Its a goddam movie folks. It is not real.

    In real life, airline pilots, bus drivers, ship crews and train crews are ALL subject to random unannounced drug and alcohol testing anytime they show up for work.

    Do a google before yapping yer jaws about something you don’t know squat about. On the railroad, D&A testing mandated by the FRA started weeding out the abusers beginning in 1985 after the Ricky Gates/Amtrak collision (google it). The other industries subsequently got similar federal regulations. In fact, if a bus driver gets a DUI in his or her personal vehicle while off duty, they lose their license to operate a bus. What other industry allows the company to fire you if you get a dui on your own time in your own car?

  56. 56
    dmbeaster says:

    What’s is flat out goofy about the movie is that while allegedly staggeringly blind drunk (.24), he performed a complex set of maneuvers that landed a stricken airplane with minor loss of life, which no other sober pilot could duplicate. And then he is convicted for allegedly being responsible for the crash because he was drunk. That just made zero sense.

  57. 57
    Arclite says:

    Why is that such a crazy idea?

    Because, FREEDOM, that’s why!

  58. 58
    Del says:

    @namekarB: I’ll ignore the hyper-defensive dickishness long enough to answer your question. Who else is “allowed” to fire you for a DUI?

    Well it’s not so much allowed as it is required that if you are operating with a CDL and have your personal license revoked or suspended because of a DUI you can’t drive under any circumstances, your employer can’t let you drive a company vehicle. I don’t know about where you live but around my house if your job is driving, and you can’t drive, your ass gets fired.

  59. 59
    gowest says:

    As a pilot for a major airline I’ve gotta say the comments here about the required breathalyzer are ignorant beyond belief! I had to pass drug and alcohol screening to get every flying job I’ve ever had, am subject to random drug and alcohol tests every time I go to work, and am surrounded by coworkers who are vigilant in reporting any perception of on duty alcohol use by myself or any other pilot. Additonally, we go through the same security screening as passengers everyday and are observed for signs of alcohol by the agents of the TSA. We interact with passengers in the terminal, agents at the gate, fuelers, baggage handlers and service people in the terminal, all of whom also will report any concerns they have about our sobriety. If I get a DUI in my personal time I lose my medical certification which allows me to exercise the privileges of my license. Even a history of speeding tickets will cause my medical to be denied! Do we really need a breath analysis in addition to all of this?

    I realize that “Pilot” is fiction. I get that the movie is entertaining and apparently works for a lot of viewers. That doesn’t change the fact that the takeoff and crash sequence is incoherent to any airline pilot, apparently written by someone who has no idea how a cockpit is operated. Unfortunately, the commenters here seem unable to separate their fear of flying from the reality of the flying industry, and project that fear into these comments. Enjoy the movie, but leave the driving to the professionals!

  60. 60
    namekarB says:


    Well thanks for calling me a dick without actually calling me one. Classy.

    I never said that the bus drivers lose their CDL when they get a DUI although that could and sometimes does happen. But when a bus driver gets a personal dui in their own vehicle and does not lose their dui, they are still thrown out of work.

    And thanks for weighing in on something you do not know anything about.

  61. 61
    Jamh says:

    @dmbeaster: If I remember correctly he wasn’t convicted of causing the crash, but of “betraying the public trust” which is why he was eligible for release in only 5 to 6 years.

  62. 62
    Kurzleg says:

    Saw it on Saturday night at home, and I was underwhelmed. I feel bad for Denzel because the cliched music – both song selections and score – almost completely undermined what could have been a powerful film. Way too many musical cues in the score underlining which emotion was at play, and the songs they selected showed absolutely no imagination. It’s amazing to me that the folks who were able to craft the incredible flight sequence at the beginning could also mail it in so obviously on the music. It all seemed like a PSA for AA. A really expensive PSA, but a PSA regardless.

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