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6 Answers

CFI may have a drinking problem

Asked by: 3554 views Student Pilot

I am a student pilot with a very talented and knowledgeable CFI. My concern is he regularly admits that he's "hungover" from partying the night before, usually into the wee hours of the morning. I am old enough to be his father, so for some reason he feels he can open up to me. This has happened at least a half dozen times and I've talked to him about this man to man. He says he doesn't have a problem, but clearly he is violating FAR 91.17. I'm considering having a meeting with the owner of the flight school. Should I also otify the FSDO? I'm very concerned for his safety, and for the safety of others who fly with him - not to mention the innocent people on the ground.


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6 Answers

  1. Paul Tocknell on Mar 10, 2011

    Wow.  First off, I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing these issues.  On behalf of the flight training community, I apologize that this is something you are having to go through. Your focus during your training should be on improving your flying skills and passing checkrides, not worrying about the sobriety of your instructor.  The instructor should be training you how to behave and act like a profesional pilot, not visa versa.

    You have talked to him directly, which I applaud.  It would have been very easy for you not to confront him and I appreciate the fact that you did.  If it is in your opinion that his behavior has not changed, I would talk to his direct supervisor immeadiately.  Explain and your concerns and ask that he assign you to another instructor ASAP.  Don’t fly one more time with this instructor.  His primary responsibility is to keep you safe, and if you feel that his behavior is putting you (and others) at risk, then don’t fly with him….ever.  This instructor, obviously needs at the very least a professional reprimand (if not fired).  

    As far as the FSDO, I think you might get farther by dealing with this issue directly with the flight school first.  Go up one step at a time on the ladder. Talk to the flight instructor’s supervisor (chief instructor), then the flight school owner (FBO) and then the FSDO if you feel that is necessary.  Give the flight school a chance to make this right before bringing in outside forces.  

    Good luck, and please keep us posted on how this turns out.


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  2. MaggotCFII on Mar 10, 2011

    Meet with the owner ASAP!  Especially since you have confronted the individual and there have been multiple occurrences.  The owner should take some action to clarify and if necessary rectify your concerns.  Put a very short “get back to me by X” to the owner.  Don’t let your concerns simply evaporate!
    If the owner does not address your concerns to your satisfaction leave that FBO and contact your FSDO.
    If you have the concerns you mentioned, the effectiveness of the flight instruction and your learning are in jeapordy.  Do you really trust the CFI and how much more $$$ is this going to cost you?
    Remember nobody can make you get into any airplane.
    I simply would not want to live with, “I should have done something”, should an accident/incident occur.
    This situation is a bit different than the Drunk Captain question which also called for immediate action. 

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  3. photostation on Mar 10, 2011

    Thank you both for your prompt and sound answers. I already have a meeting arranged with the owner and the CFI. I shall keep this thread posted of the outcome.

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  4. James MacGregor CFI on Mar 11, 2011

    Well, this guy is socially stupid if he is telling you this. Ether way I not fly with him again.
     However, before you start quoting what regs he is violating, did he admit that he violated 8hrs bottle to throttle? or did you get him to blow a .04??   if not then he isnt viloating jack, aside from being a idiot.
     If it bothers you dont fly with him and mention it to the owner.
    SURPRISED no one asked, but did he seem drunk????
      Back in college we had a few dorky kids that would show up to parties uninvited and act drunk and stupid to try to, I guess, fit in? It’s sad but maybe your CFI is just trying to sound like a party animal or something, when he actualy just sits up all night and plays videogames and drinks soda lol
    Also use caution with the FSDO
    An action for slander may be brought without alleging and proving special damages if the statements in question have a plainly harmful character, as by imputing to the plaintiff criminal guilt, serious sexual misconduct, or conduct or a characteristic affecting his or her business or profession.
     If he didnt violate the regs and you say “…but clearly he is violating FAR 91.17” I see some potential problems

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  5. photostation on Mar 11, 2011

    The situation was handled this morning. Thanks for everyone’s concern and advice.

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  6. Pete Kemble on Mar 14, 2011

    James – while 8 hours bottle to throttle is in the regulations (i’ve had hangovers go longer than that…unfortunate side-effect of no longer being in my 20s!) and while it’s a good gauge for a few drinks, it in no way handles binge drinking which it sounds like this poor guy’s CFI is doing, the result of which are hangovers:
    This CFI is outright breaking the regulations, as my CFI once explained to me: 91.17(a) [no person may operate an aircraft] (2) under the influence of alcohol.
    A hangover is a direct influence of alcohol consumption, so I believe the FAA would absolutely bring action against flying hungover as explained by themselves here:
    Good point on slander though – no need to get the FSDO involved as this would hurt the flight school as well as the CFI.

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