United Airlines pilot jailed after showing up for work 4 times over the legal BAC limit

At first I thought I had already written about it…because in 2017 I did write about a United 757-200 pilot who had a little too much to drink in Glasgow, was given a breathalyzer test at the airport, exceeded the legal limit, was removed from duty and ultimately jailed for 10 months. But it still happened.

United Airlines pilot sentenced to 10 months in prison in Scotland for breaking blood alcohol limits

I don’t know about whiskey in Glasgow but it wasn’t the same driver… just a similar one model of fact which took place two years later. This pilot, Glendon Gulliver, 63, was ‘not used’ to hard liquor and allegedly fell out of a bar in Glasgow the night before he was tasked with carrying 166 passengers and 11 crew on UA162 from Glasgow (GLA) to Newark (EWR).

A concerned citizen tweeted from Glasgow Airport:

Hi. A United Airlines pilot has just left a pub in Glasgow and got drunk around 9:00 p.m. Can he take a breath test before the flight to New York on Saturday morning?

It was…and turned out to be 4x over the legal limit. This was a breach of section 93(1) of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 and subject him to up to 15 months in prison. Gulliver confessed to police, pleaded guilty and pleaded for mercy, arguing that he was a Gulf War veteran, had a drinking problem and sought help for his addiction.

Despite a plea to avoid jail, his sentence was instead reduced to 10 months at sentencing this week

Between the August 3, 2019 incident and the trial, Gulliver retired from United Airlines. It is unclear whether his sentencing will involve his pension payments.

Sheriff (as a judge) Gillian Craig noted:

I find it hard to imagine a more responsible role than commercial airline pilot – these people have put their lives in your hands.

“People are right to expect the crew to be fit and able to perform their duties.

“They expect pilots to be sober.

“There were 177 men, women and children.

“I dread to think what the consequences might have been.”

In reality, it is unlikely that the passengers were in danger. Strict alcohol limits (20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood) in the UK virtually prohibit alcohol before service. But 4x the legal limit for drivers is simply the legal limit for UK drivers (80mg per 100mL).

Of course, there’s no room for error in the cockpit, the pilot has been held duly accountable, and a wise pilot is probably one who doesn’t drink before duty and one who abides by local law during and out of order. Even so, we cannot conclude that any passengers were actually in danger.


It’s a sad story for Gulliver and a sad way to end what looks like a very illustrious flying career in the US Navy and then United Airlines. Yet no one forced him into the pub or forced him to consume whiskey during his stay. It seems to me that he received exactly the type of punishment that was warranted.

> Find out more: Drunk United Pilot jailed for 10 months

(H/T: Wing view)

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