US & Canada

Drunk pilot faces prison sentence after pleading guilty

Sunwing Airlines Boeing Image copyright Mark King/Sunwing Airlines

A pilot who was found drunk in the cockpit before a flight in Canada has pleaded guilty to being impaired while in control of an aircraft.

Miroslav Gronych was found slumped in his seat with his pilot's wings attached upside down on his uniform.

He had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his body.

His plane, part of the Sunwing budget airline, later left Calgary for Cancun, Mexico, with a different pilot. There were more than 100 people on board.

Mr Gronych, 37, is facing a possible one-year prison sentence, sought by the prosecution.

"I can't even describe how ashamed I am," he said in court on Tuesday, adding: "My kids will be punished for my mistakes."

The court was told that when Mr Gronych, a Slovak national, boarded the plane at around 07:00 (14:00 GMT) on New Year's Eve, he struggled to hang up his coat and was slurring his words.

According to the statement read to the court, the co-pilot then suggested that Mr Gronych leave the plane, but he sat in the pilot's chair and appeared to pass out "resting his face on the window".

He was also an hour late for check-in, which he said was because he got lost going through security.

An empty bottle of vodka was later discovered in Mr Gronych's hotel room.

"Mr Gronych put the lives of 105 people at risk," prosecutor Rose Greenwood said on Tuesday, adding: "Hopefully he will never be permitted to fly again."

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