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FAA revokes licenses of two pilots accused of drinking

Cloyd, right, has worked for America West since 1990. Hughes has worked for the airline since January 1999.
Cloyd, right, has worked for America West since 1990. Hughes has worked for the airline since January 1999.  

By Susan Candiotti

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- The Federal Aviation Administration Thursday revoked the licenses of the two America West Airlines pilots who police say failed Breathalyzer tests as they prepared to fly a jet full of passengers.

They are Capt. Thomas Cloyd, 44, and First Officer Christopher Hughes, 41.

The revocations are effective immediately, according to FAA spokesman Paul Turk, but they can appeal the decision before the National Transportation Safety Board. They would have to prove that the emergency order was not justified

America West -- which has a zero-tolerance policy that does not allow any alcohol use by pilots within 12 hours of a flight -- fired the pilots Tuesday. FAA calls for pilots to stop having alcohol at least eight hours before stepping aboard any aircraft or if they have a blood-alcohol level of .04 or higher.

America West fires pilots accused of drinking 
Former pilot discusses drinking in the cockpit 
Complaints/arrest affidavits: Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes  (FindLaw document, PDF format)

Cloyd and Hughes were charged with operating an aircraft and driving under the influence Monday at Miami International Airport after failing a Breathalyzer test, airline officials and Miami-Dade police said. The pilots were taken to a jail, booked and later released on bond.

The two pilots were in uniform and scheduled to fly America West Flight 556 from Miami to Phoenix Monday.

Police boarded the flight and administered field sobriety tests to the pilots, who had left the gate and were taxiing on the runway.

Both agreed to Breathalyzer and blood alcohol tests, which police say showed Cloyd with a blood-alcohol level of .091 and Hughes with an .084, police said. The legal limit for operating an automobile in Florida is .08.

Cloyd has worked for America West since 1990, and Hughes has worked for the airline since January 1999, according to a company spokeswoman.


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