EAGAN (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the flying rights of a former Northwest Airlines pilot who was fired after failing two Breathalyzer tests given shortly after a Jan. 18 flight.
Northwest administered its first alcohol test on DC-9 First Officer Timothy McCourt about two hours after Flight 1047 arrived safely in the Twin Cities with 59 passengers, the FAA said.
A second test was administered about 15 minutes later. The FAA used the blood-alcohol test results of 0.056 percent on the first test and 0.043 percent on the second test to rule that McCourt violated federal aviation regulations.
The regulatory limit for pilots of civil airplanes is 0.040 percent. "This order is effective immediately," the FAA said in a prepared statement. The agency said the pilot has 10 days to appeal.
He can't apply for new flying licenses for one year. Northwest airlines fired McCourt, 37, the day after the flight.
He reportedly drank with friends in San Antonio the night before the flight. When he arrived in the Twin Cities, a Northwest ground employee detected the scent of alcohol and reported McCourt to managers.
McCourt's attorney, Bruce Hanley, of Minneapolis, said Monday that he has been conferring with pilots' union lawyers and they are deciding on "a course of action."
Hanley said he and the union lawyers have not decided whether to appeal the revocation.
Calculating from the late-morning test results and the rule of thumb that people expel alcohol at a rate of 0.015 percentage points per hour, McCourt would have arrived for his 7:10 a.m. flight with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.10 percent -- an amount that would have made it illegal for him to drive a car in Minnesota.
Federal prosecutors used that rule to gain criminal convictions against three Northwest pilots in 1990. The pilots flew from Fargo, N.D., to the Twin Cities while under the influence of alcohol after a night of heavy drinking at a bar in Moorhead.
Airport police chief Jim Welna has said the lack of a police-administered blood-alcohol test has hampered the investigation of the allegation by his department and the FBI. Northwest did not alert police when McCourt was suspected of intoxication.
McCourt has not been charged with any crime related to the flight.
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Corey said there is no regulation requiring airlines to notify police when they suspect a pilot of drunkenness.
She also said the FAA is not investigating Northwest for how it handled McCourt's case.
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