Russia probes 'pot-smoking' airline pilot

9th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian investigators launched a probe on Wednesday after a pilot and another crew member tested positive for marijuana just before a long-haul flight.

"Traces of marijuana use were found in tests on the pilot and a flight attendant," who were due to fly 192 passengers from far eastern Russia to Moscow, the Investigative Committee said in a statement on its website.

The flight crew were taken off the Yakutia flight on October 21 for medical reasons before test results established that two had used drugs, the statement said.

The airline, based in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, denied that its crew had taken drugs, saying in a statement on its website that the medical reason why they were taken off was "high blood pressure."

The pilot had been due to fly the YAK airliner from the city of Magadan, notorious for its Soviet-era labour camps, to Moscow, a distance of around 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles).

Transport investigators in the far eastern region were checking whether the airline staff should be charged with providing unsafe services, a crime that would carry a maximum jail sentence of two years, the statement said.

The results were first announced by Russia's civil aviation authority on Tuesday.

Last month, the federal narcotics agency said a pilot from an unnamed Siberian airline was caught with a large amount of Spice, a smoking mixture banned in Russia.

In September the official inquiry into an airliner that crashed into a highway in the northwestern region of Karelia in June, killing 47, found that the navigator had drunk the equivalent of a shot of vodka.

© 2011 AFP

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