Calgary

Pilot charged with being impaired was 3 times the legal limit, say Calgary police

Calgary police have charged a pilot after he allegedly passed out from intoxication in the cockpit of a plane with 99 passengers and six crew members aboard.

Sunwing Airlines flight to Cancun had more than 100 people on board Saturday morning

Pilot found passed out in cockpit 11:16

Calgary police have charged a pilot after he allegedly passed out from intoxication in the cockpit of a plane with 99 passengers and six crew members aboard.

The flight was scheduled to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.

According to police, the pilot boarded a Sunwing Airlines 737-800 series aircraft in Calgary shortly before 7 a.m. on Dec. 31.

Crews at the gate and on the plane noticed the pilot was "behaving oddly, before he became unconscious in the cockpit," Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey told reporters at a news conference.

The pilot — a 37-year-old foreign national from Slovakia in Canada on a work visa — was taken into custody.

Miroslav Gronych has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while impaired, and having care and control of an aircraft with a blood alcohol level over .08.

Police allege he passed out drunk in the cockpit right before the plane was scheduled to take off.

High blood alcohol level

His blood alcohol level was tested about two hours after the arrest and found to be more than three times the legal limit, Stacey said.

Stacey said while he personally has never experienced an incident like this, he's not surprised the plane never left the ground.

"It had all the potential for a disaster, but I'll tell you this much — the likelihood of a pilot on a major airline like this actually being able to take off when they're impaired like that is pretty slim, because there's a lot of checks and balances. There's the other flight crew and there's gate crew and they're all about safety," he added.

'We are very apologetic'

Jacqueline Grossman, a spokesperson for Sunwing, said the company is "appreciative of our crew's diligence in handling this very unfortunate matter."

The company was able to find another captain to take the flight.

"We are very apologetic for any upset that this has caused and would like to assure our customers that safety remains our utmost priority," said Grossman by email.

'He won't be flying anytime soon'

Stacey says Transport Canada will conduct their own investigation and more charges could apply.

"I fully expect that there will be additional charges," he said.

"He won't be flying anytime soon."

With files from Kate Adach