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Delta Air Lines pilot pleads guilty to being over alcohol limit before flight from Edinburgh to New York

Simon Calder’s Travel

A Delta Air Lines pilot stopped with open bottles of alcohol in his bags has pleaded guilty to being over the limit before he was due to fly a passenger plane from Edinburgh to New York.

Lawrence Russell, 63, was stopped and searched by airport security in Scotland in June last year, later pleading guilty to reporting for duty as a pilot while being impaired through drink or drugs.

During the search he was found to have two bottles of Jägermeister in his luggage – one of which was half full, according to the BBC.

Russell, who is from the US state of Georgia where Delta is based, had been due to fly a Boeing 767 full of passengers from Edinburgh to New York before he was detained.

During a routine luggage inspection at around 8am on 16 June at Edinburgh Airport, security personnel were alerted to the alcohol in Russell’s bag.

He was reportedly dressed in his pilot uniform, visibly identified as a Delta Air Lines crew member and was immediately questioned by the police after the alcohol was found.

Delta Airlines pilot Lawrence Russell

(Alexander Lawrie/ BBC)

The inspection and subsequent breathalyser test revealed a blood alcohol concentration significantly above the legal limit for performing aviation duties. Mr Russell was arrested and remanded in custody at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to the charges.

Per the BBC, the court heard the alcohol level in the pilot’s blood sample was “not less than 49mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood”. The legal limit is just 20mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Fiscal depute Matthew Millar said when Russell was cautioned and charged he told officers “I’m terrified”, the BBC reported.

Lawyer Pamela Rogers, defending, provided the court with a medical report of the treatment Russell has been receiving for his alcoholism and said he was “under no illusion” of the seriousness of the offence.

Sheriff Alison Stirling has deferred sentence to later this month for the preparation of reports.

The Independent has contacted Delta for comment.

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