A British Airways A380 first officer who was due to fly the superjumbo from Johannesburg, South Africa to London, UK, was prevented from doing so after a flight attendant told bosses he had taken cocaine on a night out.
According to The Sun, while first Officer Mike Beaton was on layover, he went out to enjoy the city’s nightlife and met some locals and holidaymakers.
According to Beaton, who texted the flight attendant details of his night out, after drinking lots of alcohol the group ended up at an apartment where he took cocaine.
Despite being his friend, the flight attendant felt she had no choice but to report the pilot before he was due to fly an Airbus A380 to London on a 12-hour flight.
Flight BA56, which was scheduled to depart on August 27, 2023, was subsequently canceled as there were no other pilots available.
The following day Beaton was flown to London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) as a passenger and on arrival he was tested for the drug. After returning a positive sample for cocaine the pilot was sacked.
An airline source told The Sun that the incident was “hard to believe” and British Airways staff had been left in shock.
“The alcohol would no longer have been found in his system, but the Class A drug was. He will never fly again,” the source said.
In a statement British Airways said that “safety is always our top priority” and that the matter was referred to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA confirmed that Beaton’s medical certificate has been withdrawn.
According to the CAA the pilot may be able to return to flying with a “comprehensive rehabilitation program” in place and an “assessment with an expert medical team”.
Even then the CAA said the pilot’s medical certificate would not be reinstated unless the body was “completely satisfied”.
“An airline must immediately inform us if a UK pilot has misused drink or drugs boarding, or being on board, an aircraft. In these cases, we would immediately suspend the pilot’s medical which means they cannot fly,” the CAA said.