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Former Commercial Pilot Pleads Guilty to Operating an Aircraft While Intoxicated

On October 26, Scott Marvin Russell, a former pilot for Vacation Express/Sky King Airlines, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Scranton, PA to a felony charge of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol. On May 12, 2004, Russell was scheduled to copilot a Boeing 737-200 Vacation Express charter flight departing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport bound for Myrtle Beach, SC with 57 passengers. This flight was also scheduled for a routine FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) inspection the same day.

While Russell and the pilot taxied from the commuter terminal to the passenger terminal with the FSDO inspector aboard, the inspector noted the smell of alcohol on Russell’s breath. Multiple tests administered shortly thereafter indicated that Russell’s blood-alcohol level exceeded the 0.04 limit under FAA regulations for anyone piloting an aircraft. Russell resigned from Vacation Express/Sky King Airlines on May 12, 2004, and FAA issued an emergency revocation of his pilot’s license in July 2004. A sentencing date for Russell has not yet been set. FAA assisted in this investigation.