Just before taking off from Gatwick airport, flight attendants aboard a full British Airways flight to Mauritius on Thursday sounded an alert to stop the take-off due to fears that the pilot was drunk.
According to news reports, staff aboard the Boeing 777 allegedly called police to report that they could smell alcohol on the pilot and were worried about the safety of the passengers on the flight.
The 11-hour flight was expected to leave Gatwick Airport at 8:20 p.m., but it was delayed until 10:56 p.m. in order for a replacement pilot to be found.
British Airways confirmed that the flight was delayed and the pilot replaced. According to an airline source who spoke to the Sun, “Cops rushed on to the plane and headed straight for the cockpit. The first officer was cuffed and led away.”
A British Airways spokesperson said, “We’re taking this matter extremely seriously and are assisting the police with their inquiries. “We are sorry for the delay to our customers. The aircraft remained at the gate until an alternative third pilot joined the flight crew.”
The spokesperson added, “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority”.
Sussex Police told reporters that they were called to the airport’s South Terminal Gate 17 at 8:25 p.m. and arrested a 49 year-old man from Harmondsworth, West London, who remains in custody.