Miroslav Gronych, the former pilot at Canada's Sunwing Airlines, has pleaded guilty on Tuesday (21 March) to being impaired while in control of an aeroplane. He had passed out in a cockpit before the scheduled flight.
The 37-year-old Gronych is a Slovakian in Canada on a work visa. The aircraft he was supposed to fly on 31 December was to take off from Calgary to Cancun with stops in Regina and Winnipeg. There were 99 passengers and six flight crew on board.
He was found slumped in his seat and was ushered off the plane. The agreed statement of facts read in court on Tuesday said that a maid found an empty bottle of Vodka in his hotel room and his pilot's wings appeared upside down on his uniform.
The statement also said that he struggled to hang up his jacket and that he was an hour late for the check-in. He explained his delay by saying that he was lost going through security.
Prosecutor Rose Greenwood asked the court for a jail sentence of one year for the pilot. "This was a crime of dramatic proportion. The last thing the public should have to do is question the sobriety of the pilots."
"Mr. Gronych put the lives of 105 people at risk,'' she said adding "Hopefully he will never be permitted to fly again.''
Susan Karpa, the defence lawyer said that her client acknowledges that he is likely to do prison time and recommended to sentence him to three to six months in jail. She added that he has an alcohol addiction issue and had begun treatment in Saskatoon, the place where he lived.
Gronych offered a tearful apology saying, "I feel very ashamed. I feel a lot of remorse," he was quoted by CBC as saying.
As per Canadian aviation rules, flight crew members are not allowed to work within eight hours of taking alcohol or while under the influence of it. It depends on each airline to enforce the regulations.