A Drunk Pilot or Mass Psychosis?

Fly the friendly skies: Aeroflot passengers refused to let their plane leave because they believed the pilot was drunk.

His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.

Flight attendants initially ignored passengers’ complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped “making trouble”. As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.

One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was “not such a big deal” if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.

Eventually, the pilot was persuaded to come out of the cockpit (he refused for a good hour) and when he did the passengers described him as unsteady with bloodshot eyes. He protested that he was not drunk, but they demanded that they get a new pilot even after he promised not to touch the controls (there were three other pilots in the cockpit). In fact, they decided that they wanted four new pilots. After a few hours Aeroflot finally agreed, but they’re still sticking to their story:

An Aeroflot spokeswoman said that tests had revealed no trace of alcohol in the pilot’s blood. She blamed “mass psychosis” among passengers for the decision to replace the crew, although the company later issued a statement saying that Mr Cheplevsky could have suffered a stroke just before the flight.

Exit Poll: The passengers overreacted or the passengers did the right thing?

~ by Gabriel Malor on February 3, 2009.

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