A Sunwing Airlines aircraft. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal)

A pilot with an airline scheduled to land at the Argyle International Airport when it begins operating on Feb. 14 has been charged after he was allegedly found in the cockpit drunk, with 99 passengers and six crew members aboard.

The arrest of the Sunwing Airlines Inc. pilot in Canada on Saturday came one day after Chief Executive Officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, announced that the airline would bring passengers on a chartered flight to St. Vincent next month.

Staff Sergeant Paul Stacey told the media in Canada on Saturday that shortly before 7 a.m. that day, a male pilot boarded a Sunwing fight in Calgary that was scheduled to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.

He said that gate crew and the crew aboard the flight noticed that the pilot was “behaving oddly before he became unconscious in the cockpit”.

Calgary police were called and the pilot was escorted from the aircraft and taken into custody.

Initial tests conducted by the Calgary police indicated that the pilot was “severely impaired by alcohol,” Stacey said.

The pilot has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while impaired by alcohol and having care and control of an aircraft over .08 — that is exceeding 8 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

Stacey said this was more than three times the legal limit.

“It had all the potential for a disaster, but I’ll tell you this much — the likelihood of a pilot on a major airline like this actually being able to take off when they’re impaired like that is pretty slim, because there’s a lot of checks and balances. There’s the other flight crew and there’s gate crew and they’re all about safety,” he said.

He said he expects that more charges will be brought against the pilot, adding,  “He won’t be flying anytime soon.”

This is hardly the type of publicity that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would want as it prepares to begin operating the EC$729 million Argyle International Airport, five years behind schedule.

Sunwing, along with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) are expected to be the first international carriers to land at the airport, and Beache said Friday that they would arrive about one hour apart on Feb. 14.

CAL will make a chartered flight from JFK, he said, but iWitness News was unsuccessful in its attempts on Monday to get details about that flight.

CAL reservation departments told iWitness News that they have not received any notice about the flight, adding that they didn’t know “just yet” when the notice would be brought to them.

Beache said that return flight would be on Feb. 21.

He said each aircraft can seat about 130 passengers each.

“People will get more details when those tickets go on sale. It’s not confirmed yet but we will be confirming everything in terms of Sunwing. You’d probably be going through Sunwing for those tickets out of Toronto. For CAL, we are speaking to CAL about if they are going to be doing the selling of the tickets or if we have to use one of our tour operators to do it,” he said.

He said he did not see a problem in the tickets being sold out.

“But those who are going to be negative, it’s really time to stop. Get onboard if you still going to argue about whether the airport is needed or not, you really just need to stop.”

But the negativity that Beache spoke about might, in fact, be the reality that notwithstanding his statements over the years about negotiations with airlines being at advanced stages, the airport will begin operations without regular scheduled flights by any major international carrier.

Beache said on Friday that he was still speaking with “some people out of the UK but was not sure how that would go”, in terms of getting a flight from the United Kingdom to Argyle on Feb. 14.

23 replies on “Pilot with airline to land at Argyle allegedly drunk in the cockpit”

  1. Glen got to be kidding: Get on board with a drunken pilot? I never heard of this airline until this incident and will not be using it to fly to SVG.

    1. Skeck don’t worry this is a charter company paid by the government to fly to Argyle they would never fly there as a regular route. Its all part of the illusion that the airport is up and running.

      To be legal and for insurance to kick in flights must be booked by a group or consortium responsible for all seats on the flight, hence the government booking.

      Scheduled flights are general transportation options open to all commuters, while chartered flights are registered to certain businesses or groups or for various purposes. Chartered flights are often exclusionary and selective on who is allowed to buy tickets.

      Charter flights may not carry the same protection and insurance conditions when booking you must be aware by asking for a printed copy of everything.

      Because even if the airline isn’t dodgy the government is.

  2. Landing at a new airport is always a challenge for pilots of big aircraft because they would not have been able to practice on a flight simulator as no simulator would be programmed to feature Argyle. We all know that Argyle can have wind problems and the landing is downhill which all add to the initial difficulty. But if a pilot is impaired with just one alcoholic drink that could bring tragedy.

    Of course aircraft carrying 150 passengers are tiny and could land at Canuan easily.

    Canuan can land aircraft up to 240 passengers. No one flies there so why do we need Argyle in the first place? We could have been flying 150 seat aircraft into Canuan now for several years.

    Even if they give the seats away you will not get me to fly into Argyle with a pilot with no experience of landing there.

    1. There you go again, Peter, with yet another prevarication, this time implying that most airports in the world have dedicated flight simulators when this is absolutely false.

      This is your number one problem: you keep makes this stuff up and expect the rest of us to unquestioningly fall in line.

      And when anyone challenges your lies, distortions, and exaggerations, you turn beast and walk stick on them.

      1. All international pilots use simulators, not all airlines or airports have their own simulators, their employers buy time from those that provide such a service. There are also landing and take off videos available for some airports to help with familiarisation.

        I never ever wrote or implied that most airports have simulators. That is simply another one of your spiteful lies. Nothing I wrote is a lie and can be very simply checked by the readers on the internet.

        Simulator training for pilots is obligatory on all international airlines nowadays. David Ryan, director of flight operations for a San Diego-based corporation and vice chairman of the NBAA Safety Committee, says, “Simulator training certainly is a required part of the process for skill sets. But even with scenario-based training, it’s a block-check exercise after 20 years, less of a new learning process.” Most simulator training involves controlling the aircraft relatively close to the ground, in the vicinity of chosen airports, during approach, landing, takeoff and initial departure.

        David I see that you have decided that in 2017 you will continue stalking me. You have just about wrecked the readership and writing fraternity on CNN with your nonsense. Now you want to try and destroy I Witness with your stupidity.

        Everyone knows by now what you are about and that you are an internet impostor. Using the name of an Israeli whilst posing as a retired PhD university professor.

        You have insulted all the women that came to CNN and you owe them apologies which they have called for on several occasions.

        You have even tried to pretend that all the other writers on CNN are me or that I write their copy for them. An attempt to discredit me and the other writers.

        You are so wracked with jealousy that you attack everyone who you feel is a threat to you.

        In the early days of I-Witness Kenton had someone else like you who almost wrecked his business until he put his foot down.

        I must say that you have put CNN in a difficult spot if Vin Samuel’s decides to sue them for publishing what appears to be grossly calumnious content about him and his book.

        That is the problem with people like you David you can suddenly disappear leaving the editors in the mess that you create.

        You are not just using an adopted user name you are knowingly using someone else’s whole name and even adopted a false background to go with it. I would imagine that you are using a false email address as well. We know you are using TOR to hide your IP because you once told us so.

        David you really have got to stop this spiteful maliciousness and try and remove the hatred from your heart. I suppose you as a self declared atheist [remember you told us that?] there are no Christian values in you to appeal to.

        I really am starting to believe what Sandra B wrote about your cattiness and the reasons for it.

        Sandra if you are still out there reading this stuff could you please repeat what you once told us?

  3. Since no real airline wants to fly to SVG we seem to getting a “bottom of the barrel” company to service SVG, as usual. Any real business that comes to SVG to do business does not last long, they soon find themselves running out of here as fast as possible before they go bankrupt. Looks like we are temporarily going to be serviced from “Never Come Back” airlines, thanks to our government’s way of doing things.

      1. Oooops! I did no due diligence on that one. I do hope however that they do not allow drunk pilots in the cockpit anymore.

    1. Dave from Toronto says:

      Lostpet, you are completely lost on this one. Sunwing Airlines, based in Toronto, is Canada’s leading leisure airline, not a “bottom of the barrel” company as you described. Please read my comments above.

      I don’t mean to minimize the issue of drunken pilots, but, as VERIDICAL mentioned above, this is one pilot who was arrested. Don’t expect to see him working for Sunwing or any other airline anytime soon.

      In addition, these things happen on other airlines as well, including on American Airlines flight 736 (is that major enough for you?), and Delta several years ago. It also shows that the system works – other airline crew and passengers serve to keep a watchful eye for such behavior in order to alert authorities before something catastrophic happens.

      I can see why businesses are hesitant to come to SVG. Businesses need good employees and clients with positive outlook and attitudes. Maybe, it’s time to change your mentality for 2017 !

      1. OK, I did not do any research on this airline. I did not know because I have never heard of them. However, I will not change my mentality. I have lived in SVG long enough to know how things usually ALWAYS work here. Eventually everything fails. The arrogance and greed of the government guarantees it! This governmental attitude spills into the population keeping us in a never-ending cycle of failure. I hope one day SVG will get a true leader that has the courage and conviction to implement change instead of exploiting the country and people for their own pleasure.

      2. Dave , You have to realize that there are persons in SVG who
        for political reasons do not want the Argyle Airport to be a success . They intend to do everything possible to badmouth
        the Airport .

        Some have even wished that a TSUNAMI could come and destroy the Argyle Airport . The funny thing is that these despicable persons will also have use of the Argyle International Airport .

        I have absolutely no doubt that if the Opposition Party had built
        the International Airport , they would never utter a word of criticism about the Airport . They seem to have forgotten that
        the current Opposition Party was in Office for 17 freaking years , and did not do one blasted thing about building an
        International Airport . I cite this to illustrate that when the current Opposition Party was in Office an International Airport
        was not on their Agenda .

        Now that the current Government has built the Argyle International Airport , They are so upset , they relish being critical of the Airport . These surely are not sane persons .

  4. Brown Boy USA says:

    My thing is that why can’t they confirm any international airline that will be landing there on a regular basis, not just on the opening day? That’s the important thing. These are chartered flights with less than 200 passengers landing for one time only. When are we going to get regular international flights into Argyle? That’s the question I need answer!

    1. Dave from Toronto says:

      Hey, Usain Bolt was once crawling around his parents’ living room on the carpet. Now, he is the fastest man on earth.

      Moral of the story is that you need to crawl, walk then run. Let’s start with chartered flights and things will pick up eventually.

      Instead of asking when we are going to get regular international flights at AIA, why not do something to help us achieve that goal. I’m assuming that you are in the USA. People like you in the diaspora are in a much better position to contribute to the development of SVG. I assume that you have taken the educational and training opportunities that countries like the USA can offer. Such exposure should have given you a different perspective than a kid back home in the village who did not have such opportunities to expand his mind.

      Stop asking what your country can do for you and start asking what you can do for your country. Have you encouraged family, friends, co-workers, gym member, etc. to visit SVG. Seems like you are internet savvy. How about getting onto those travel blogs to promote SVG. Have you call your local travel agent to promote the island? These are the ways that AIA and, by extension, SVG will flourish. Those are the questions I need answered!

      1. Yes, the first thing he can do for his country is spread the word to those who can vote that we need new leadership. If we had better leadership the airport would have more appeal to airlines. Too bad it was built for political reasons and not to actually function. Now they are trying to find a way to make it actually work. If the planning was better it would have been much easier, but that’s what happens when undertaking projects to win elections rather than for the welfare of the country.

      2. Brown Boy USA says:

        I like the way you think, this is typical of the modern day Vincentian mentality. One must not ask question or demand answer from the government. Instead we should just shut to hell up and say nothing, just contribute blindly. It does not matter what our contribution or efforts go to, just contribute and shut up! You are forgetting a very important point my friend, this or any other government running is this country is doing so on behalf of the people, including us in the diaspora. And yes, this country have been running on the backs of us here in the diaspora, so how much more can we do when we can’t get answer for a simple questions. And I like how every time you are quick to point your fingers at us in the diaspora as if we are the answers to all the problems the country faces. Well hear this, we in the diaspora have our problems to take care of and many of you back home are living the good life on our backs. Some times we don’t even get a thanks but we still do it anyway out of love. And yes, we are to continue contribute to development of our country but equally we have the right to question matters back home as well. The AIA is 5 years behind schedule and overly costly. We understand that everything takes time. However, you mean to tell me that with all that money and planning that the government over the years could not have started negotiations with international airlines to begin operation on airport that cost so much and took so much time? I like when one questions anything back home, people like you are quick to attack them and say you are against the government. What then can we question? Don’t you think the government had enough time to put things place to ensure that we have international airlines landing in our country? If simple question like that we can’t ask, what the hell can we question then? You tell me!

  5. VERIDICAL ,

    I get the impression from comments above that the Airline SUNWING , apparently has only one Pilot to fly all its Aircrafts , that cannot be true . I perceive that there are some here who wish
    to discourage people flying to the Argyle International Airport . WE are without the shadow of
    a doubt OUR OWN WORST ENEMY .

    Interestingly , those who are writing these asinine statements , I have no doubt will be the first
    to travel out of the Country when the AIA is fully operational . The stark fact is that the AIA is
    for ALL VINCENTIANS . I get the impression that some here would rather take LIAT , and go
    to Barbados , to be subjected to the Uncouth Louts at Sir Grantley Adams Airport .

    These people are in the same boat as the woman who wished that a Tsunami would come and
    demolish the Argyle International Airport . Such stark and dire pronouncements can only come
    from mentally deranged persons . Evidently , the writer of the Incident , that involved a Pilot beoiing Drunk , so have been given inside information that , that Pilot is the same Pilot designated to fly the Charter Flight from Toronto ; to SVG .

    1. Dave from Toronto says:

      Hey man, I’m with you on this one. I think the first order of business should be to take all the dumb folks who are cheering for AIA to fail and fly them out of AIA to a deserted island.

      1. I doubt anyone wants it to fail. I believe that most people in SVG are just tired of being fooled, and are very angry. I wonder who the bigger liar is: Obama or Gonsalves? All the fake opening dates, an election promise (multiple times) to create jobs, recently that they will start construction at Mt Wynn “ground breaking” on Dec 1st. I recently found out that they have not even surveyed the land there yet; then they still have to make site and construction plans. The earliest they can possible start at Mt Wynn is August. We are just tired of all the lies!

  6. I just read what a pilot wrote

    “Airline pilots should never carry passengers on their first visit to any airport.

    “They get trained on how to handle any airport by going in there before acting as pilot in command with passengers”.

    Did the LIAT pilot follow these conventions? Will any charter flight pilot follow this convention?

  7. VERIDICAL

    The Editor of this Newspaper needs to cease & desist in indulging in FAKE NEWS . I am aware
    that Fake News is in vogue these days . But it is very unbecoming to have a headline , that
    seems to indicate that the Pilot who is going to pilot the Plane landing at the Argyle Airport ,
    was found to be drunk .

    In essence the headline of the article was & is very misleading . Surely it could have been
    stated better than it was stated . Now if you don’t like the Government fine ; but that does not
    mean that you have to scare the General Public . ALL Journalists have an obligation to bring
    clarity regarding issues to the General Public .

  8. “Pilot with airline to land at Argyle allegedly drunk in the cockpit”…..

    …..am I to believe that the “only qualified journalist in SVG,” or a responsible and unbiased journalist wrote this? What does this single overseas incident with that pilot have to do with SVG and our airport? I’d really like to see Sunwing Airlines file suit against you KC and IWN as these days only such threats seem to keep people and entities like you honest.

    Congratulations KC! You perhaps got what you wanted based on the “off topic” ramblings and venom of those who were stupid and quick enough to throw gasoline onto that fire you started. Fortunately, a few sensible persons chimed in so all is not lost.

    I really do think IWN could be so much better as the “to go place” for news on SVG matters, but instead we keep seeing anti-government/anti-SVG/Anti-ULP/Anti-RG/Negative news reported on for the most part! Shame on you IWN and KC for wasting my time on such a stupid article that clearly to me is malicious in nature. RG and the ULP are no angels but then again none of us are! This article is to me malicious and falls into my personal definition of “terrorism” or “terrorists.” After all, one can conclude that your article implied “only planes flown by drunken pilots will be landing at the AIA,” and that serves to instill fear and perhaps terror in some. This is an attack on the AIA, the Government, and my country. When you attack my country you attack me and that’s terrorism in my mind.

    Now KC and IWN, please stop behaving like “terrorists” and get back to responsible and value added journalism which I think honestly you are quite capable of!

    TB

  9. Dave from Toronto says:

    I do agree that it was an example of irresponsible journalism. While some readers are capable of determining that the story of a drunken pilot, who was arrested and will never work in a cockpit again, is irrelevant to the issue of AIA, others are not not capable of doing so. Hence, it only leads to fear mongering and helps to inflame political distrust and division.

    The editor needs to do a better job at providing context and relevance to a news article. Yes, it is news and it was worthwhile to report, as did most news outlets here in Canada and beyond. However, where the editor failed was in implying, at least implicitly, that traveling on Sunwing to and from AIA presents an extraordinary risk to the travelling public that is beyond that posed by other airlines.

    The editor also failed to provide proper context on the incident with respect to the risk to the travelling public. Here is where a journalist earns his pay. Anyone can recycle a news article that is already in circulation. However, what the editor should have done was to research details such as the Sunwing’s safety record to determine whether it was an isolated case that is unlikely to happen again or a chronic safety issue. If Sunwing had a poor safety record (AND IT DOES NOT), then, it would make sense to question its involvement with flying passengers to AIA. I would argue that Sunwing will be even safer in the future, now that the Canadian government and consumer watchdogs will have it under scrutiny. In addition, the flying public around the world will now pressure their governments to ensure that these events don’t happen on other airlines. Without this context, the reader of IWNSVG are left wondering whether the airline is safe and by extension, whether AIA is safe. This is a disservice to the people of this country.

    Maybe, the SVG public would have been better served by the editor using the context of the story to ask regulators for assurances that measures are in place to ensure that similar instances will not occur on LIAT, CAL and others.

    I plan to return home soon and if the deal offered by Sunwing is right, I would not hesitate to fly.

    p.s. I assume that AMIN meant written by the editor. In any event, it should have been reviewed by the editor before publication.

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