Breath-test pilot suspended after arrest

Last updated at 11:07 02 July 2004

A pilot has been suspended by his airline after being arrested and breath-tested as he was about to fly a passenger plane out of Heathrow airport.

Charles Nicholls, 53, a Briton, was on a Royal Brunei Airlines aircraft set to leave Heathrow airport's Terminal 3 for Brunei.

Police officers arrested him around 9.25am

yesterday and, after breath-testing him, took him

to Heathrow police station.

Mr Nicholls, who has been with the airline for around 10 years, was later bailed to return to Heathrow police station in mid-August pending further inquiries.

It is also understood that passengers on board the plane, who had to wait while a replacement pilot was found, were told that the arrested man had left the aircraft "to help police with their inquiries" into an incident outside the plane. The plane took off two hours late.

In a statement today, Royal Brunei Airlines said: "He was released without being charged and asked to return, pending further inquiries, in mid-August.

"Royal Brunei Airlines, following company procedure, has suspended the pilot while further internal investigations are undertaken."

The Government recently brought in new regulations for airline staff and ships' crews which make them subject to police breath tests.

Last week British Airways announced it was introducing its own drug and alcohol testing.

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