Drunk Delta Pilot Jailed in UK

A Delta Air Lines pilot who showed up so drunk for a transatlantic flight at London's Heathrow airport that he didn't know where he was supposed to fly the airplane, will serve six months in jail.

George La Perle, 49, of Boston, pleaded guilty in a London court to "performing an aviation function with excess alcohol," according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

First Officer La Perle, who has 20 years flying experience, was stopped by security officers at the airport because he reeked of alcohol, according to court testimony. The incident occurred in the morning of Nov. 1.

The pilot told officers he had had only a few beers the night before. But when he was asked where he was flying he said New York -- rather than his scheduled destination of Detroit.

Tests later showed La Perle had more than four times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood allowed for a pilot.

The court was told La Perle had been scheduled to be one of three pilots on the Boeing 767 flight, with 240 passengers onboard.

In sentencing La Perle, Judge Phillip Matthews directed remarks at the pilot.

"The consequences for the passengers on that plane, if you had piloted for any stage of that journey, which was a distinct possibility bearing in mind that is what you were employed to do, were potentially catastrophic," the judge said.

La Perle's defense attorney said his client felt "deep remorse," according to the newspaper.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black tells AOL Travel News that La Perle has not flown for the carrier since the incident in London and would be fired.

"Delta's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation. In accordance with that policy, the pilot's employment will be terminated," Black says.

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