BUFALA, New York – The pilot was removed from a JetBlue flight to Buffalo on Wednesday after police said he exceeded more than four times the alcohol limit.

The 52-year-old pilot James Clifton could face federal charges.

Authorities say a TSA officer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport noticed the pilot was acting drunk, and the Niagara Border Transportation Agency removed him from the cockpit and gave him a breathalyzer before flying to Florida.

It reportedly registered .17, which is twice the allowable limit for driving in the U.S. but four times the allowable limit for pilots

Pilots face tougher restrictions on blood alcohol levels, with .04 being considered illegal.

According to police, the pilot said he did not drink in the morning of the flight, but drank 7-8 drinks the night before.

Clifton is said to have spent the night drinking at a bar near the hotel where he and his team were staying.

According to a police report, another flight pilot told police that Clifton missed the crew bus at the airport and was forced to board an Uber. Going through the guards, he caught the attention of an officer and a TSA agent.

“It’s as unusual as everyone remembers here in Buffalo, at Buffalo Airport. Indeed, no one can remember anything like that happening.”

Clifton, a native of Orlando, Florida, was taken into custody and released into JetBlue security, which notified federal authorities.

A police report also said Clifton had a pistol licensed under the post-911 program, which allows commercial pilots to arm themselves. Police confiscated a handgun and three magazines for 17 rounds.

“The safety of JetBlue customers and crew is our first priority,” JetBlue said in a statement. “We always follow all the rules and requirements of the DOT regarding alcohol and have a very strict domestic policy of zero tolerance for alcohol. We are aware of the incident in Buffalo this morning and are fully cooperating with law enforcement. We are also conducting our own internal investigation The crew member has been relieved of his duties. “

The Airline Pilots Association, which represents JetBlue pilots, has issued the following statement:

“The profession of airline pilot in North America is one of the most attentive careers, and the professionalism of airline pilots has contributed to air transport becoming the safest mode of transportation for passengers and shippers.”

The FAA, meanwhile, says it is investigating the allegations:

“The FAA is investigating allegations that the airline pilot tried to come to work in a state of intoxication. The agency takes these issues seriously. “

The FAA’s Drugs and Alcohol Regulations prohibit pilots from consuming alcohol while on duty or for eight hours after flying duty.

FAA regulations also prohibit pilots from flying or attempting to operate an aircraft for eight hours after drinking alcohol or if their alcohol concentration is 0.04 or more.

“It could not be more serious. The idea of ​​letting into the commercial cabin of any person with minor injuries with all these lives behind you and all these lives on the ground below you is unbearable to have any damage in any case and in terms of pilot, it’s the end of a career, ”retired airline pilot John Nance said.

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