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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

S7 Airline Checked For ‘Drunk’ Pilot

Prosecutors opened a check into S7, the country’s second-largest airline, on Monday after one of its pilots was removed from a flight from Germany on suspicion of being drunk.

The West Siberian transportation prosecutor’s office in the city of Novosibirsk is examining whether the airline complies with laws regulating “medical security” on flights, prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Oksana Gorbunova told The Moscow Times.

She said the check was triggered by media reports that German authorities had barred an S7 pilot from operating a flight from Frankfurt on Saturday after preflight testing found traces of alcohol in his blood.

S7 spokesman Kirill Alyavdin said the pilot was the captain of an Airbus A320 headed for Novosibirsk.

State television said the plane had about 150 passengers.

German law enforcement officials opened a criminal case against the 49-year-old pilot after the security service at Frankfurt Airport found that he had a blood alcohol content above 0.05 percent, Itar-Tass and RIA-Novosti reported. The pilot was released on bail of 1,000 euros ($1,470), the reports said.

Alyavdin could not confirm the reports, saying the airline had not yet received documents related to the incident from German officials. He said a 0.02 percent blood alcohol content before a flight was the legal limit for pilots across Europe.

If investigators confirm that the pilot was drunk, he will be fired, S7 said in an e-mailed statement.

Saturday’s flight departed from Frankfurt an hour late after S7 found a substitute pilot, Itar-Tass reported.

Worries about drunken Russian pilots have surfaced before. Investigators found alcohol in the blood of the captain of an Aeroflot-Nord Boeing 737 that crashed in September 2008 near Perm, killing all 88 people on board. But they said the pilot’s poor training was the reason for the crash. Aeroflot-Nord is a subsidiary of Aeroflot, Russia’s biggest airline.

Aeroflot replaced a pilot on a Moscow to New York flight in late December after passengers complained that he was drunk. The airline initially refused to replace him but subsequently gave in to passengers’ demands. It later apologized and said the pilot was not drunk but might have suffered a stroke shortly before the flight.