Twin Cities airport police took an American Eagle pilot into custody Friday morning after he was escorted from his plane and failed a breathalyzer test.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said the incident happened shortly after 6 a.m. as an American Eagle flight crew was preparing their aircraft for a regularly scheduled flight to New York LaGuardia Airport.
"A witness smelled what they believed was alcohol on the breath of a pilot this morning," Hogan said. "Airport police followed up and conducted a breathalyzer. The pilot did fail the breathalyzer test, and was taken to Fairview Southdale hospital for blood tests."
Hogan said there are a number of federal and state regulations covering alcohol use by flight crews. In Minnesota, the statutory limit for pilots is 0.04 percent blood alcohol content, or half of the level for drunk driving on the state's roadways.
The pilot is expected to be booked into the Hennepin County jail Friday. Hogan said formal charges will likely have to wait until the pilot's blood test result is available.
A statement from American Eagle Friday afternoon read, "American Eagle has a well-established substance abuse policy that is designed to put the safety of our customers and employees first. We are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full internal investigation. The pilot will be withheld from service pending the outcome of the investigation."
Fifty-three passengers were scheduled to depart on the flight.