22 Mar 2017

Pilot found drunk in cockpit faces prison sentence

4:49 pm on 22 March 2017

A pilot who passed out in the cockpit before a flight in Canada has pleaded guilty to a charge of being impaired while in control of an aircraft.

Sunwing Airline

Pilot Miroslav Gronych told a court: "I can't even describe how ashamed I am." Photo: 123RF

Miroslav Gronych, 37, was due to fly a Sunwing Airlines plane from Calgary to Cancun in Mexico on New Year's Eve.

He was found slumped in his seat and was escorted off the aircraft.

Police said the Slovakian pilot's wings were attached upside down on his uniform and an empty bottle of vodka was found in his hotel room.

He had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his body. There were more than 100 people on board the plane.

The prosecution has asked for a one-year jail sentence.

"I can't even describe how ashamed I am," he said in court on Tuesday, adding: "My kids will be punished for my mistakes."

The court was told that when Mr Gronych boarded the plane, he struggled to hang up his coat and was slurring his words.

The co-pilot then suggested that Mr Gronych leave the plane, but he sat in the pilot's chair and appeared to pass out "resting his face on the window".

He was an hour late for check-in, which he said was because he got lost going through security.

"Mr Gronych put the lives of 105 people at risk," prosecutor Rose Greenwood said, adding: "Hopefully he will never be permitted to fly again."