CAA: (Shaheen Air pilot denies being intoxicated during flight)

ISLAMABAD: The pilot in command of a Shaheen Air International plane that skidded off the runway in Lahore earlier this month has denied that he was intoxicated during the flight, rejecting a medical report claiming he had an unacceptable level of blood alcohol.

According to a report, Punjab police had arrested Captain Asmat Mehmood from his residence in Karachi last week after a medical report found he was intoxicated and fatigued during the NL-142 Karachi to Lahore flight.

The Boeing 737 carrying more than 121 passengers was landing on November 3 when one of its tyres burst causing it to skid off the airstrip and stop about 1,000 feet short from the end into a grassy patch 70 feet west of the runway at the Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) in Lahore.

Pervez George, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said that “the medical investigation reports of cockpit crew just after the incident revealed that the pilot in command had an unacceptable level of alcohol in blood” and was suffering from lack of sleep.

Nobody was hurt in the accident, but the plane suffered serious damage in what could have resulted in a major disaster. But, during investigation by the Punjab police on Monday, the pilot claimed he had not consumed alcohol during the flight. Mehmood rejected the medical report in his statement, claiming that he was being framed.

Mehmood said that the accident happened during landing, and that if he was drunk, it should have happened during the flight. The pilot claimed that the accident happened because the tyres burst, and that he managed to land the aircraft safely despite the faulty landing gear.