American Airlines pilot James Yates contends some "strange things" sometimes happen in his sleep, one of which may have been drinking a third of a bottle of whiskey the night before a transatlantic flight.
Yates was scheduled to be the first officer on a flight from Manchester, England to Chicago when airport security stopped him at a checkpoint and suspected he was under the influence of alcohol, the Daily Mail reports.
Police say that when they tested his blood-alcohol content later, it was more than six times over the limit for a member of a flight crew.
During a trial, Yates told a jury that he wasn't sure how he ended up with so much alcohol in his system. Prosecutors alleged that Yates had a night of drinking that included stops at several pubs.
Yates, who lives in Ohio, offered another possible explanation: He drank while he was sleeping. He said that when he awoke in the morning to a colleague knocking on his hotel room door, he noticed that a third of a bottle of whiskey was gone, even though he had no recollection of ever drinking from it.
He claimed that he soon realized he was drunk and that he would have never attempted to carry out his duties as first officer that day. He said he went to the airport to tell the captain of the flight that he was unable to work because of his condition.
The jury apparently bought Yates's side of the story, because it acquitted him on the one charge he was facing. Yates's fate with the airline is a little more uncertain, the newspaper notes.
"He continues to be on leave of absence from the company, and upon his return from that leave, the company will discuss with him his continued employment," American Airlines said in a statement. "These are private discussions and we will not comment further on the outcome. Our primary concern has and always will be for the safety of our passengers and crews."
Source: Daily Mail