JetBlue pilot charged with flying drunk from Orlando to New York

JetBlue Pilot Faces Judge
JetBlue Pilot Faces Judge

(Reuters) -- U.S. prosecutors have charged a JetBlue pilot with flying while drunk from Orlando to New York last year with 151 passengers on board, officials said on Wednesday.

Dennis Thomas Murphy Jr. was arrested and arraigned in a federal court in New York City on a charge of operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence, said Nellin McIntosh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

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The complaint unsealed on Wednesday said 151 passengers were onboard the flight on April 21, 2015, and Murphy had been selected for random alcohol testing upon landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.

JetBlue officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Murphy, who is from New Jersey, was released on a $50,000 bond cosigned by his father and spouse. His attorney, federal defender James Darrow, could not be immediately reached for comment.

A breath test showed Murphy had a blood alcohol level of .111 percent, the complaint said. A second test showed him having a level of .091 percent.

"During the walk to the onsite testing office at JFK Airport, Murphy's face was red and he was chewing gum rapidly," the complaint said, adding that he attributed the high ratings to the gum he was chewing.

A blood alcohol level of .1 or higher qualifies as being under the influence for criminal charges, the complaint said. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits pilots from flying with blood alcohol content higher than .04, according to the regulator's website.

Earlier in the day, Murphy also piloted a flight to Orlando International Airport from New York with 119 passengers on board and his co-pilot told authorities that Murphy was drinking an "unknown beverage from a cup" before and during both trips, the complaint said.

Murphy was immediately removed from being able to fly JetBlue planes and had resigned from the airline by May 27, 2015. He was hired by the company in February of that year.

Last month, an American Airlines co-pilot was charged for drinking alcohol before a weekend flight out of Detroit.