Delta pilot gets 10-month jail sentence for drinking before Scotland to NYC flight

Lawrence Russell, 63, pleaded guilty to reporting for duty as a pilot while exceeding the prescribed blood alcohol limit

A former Delta Air Lines pilot has been sentenced in Scotland to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to showing up for work while intoxicated ahead of a flight he was set to captain from Edinburgh to New York City last year. 

Sheriff Alison Stirling told a court Tuesday that Lawrence Russell, 63, arrived at the airport with a bag that was flagged by security and "found to contain two bottles of Jägermeister, one of which was open and was just under half full" prior to his arrest on June 16, 2023, according to the Judiciary of Scotland. 

"Lawrence Barbiers Russell Jr, on 5 March 2024, at the sheriff court in Edinburgh you pled guilty to reporting for duty at Edinburgh International Airport as a pilot rostered to pilot as captain for a Boeing 767 aircraft scheduled to depart for New York JFK airport when the proportion of alcohol in your blood was not less than 49 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, which exceeded the prescribed limit of 20 milligrams," Stirling said. "The blood alcohol limit for car drivers is 50 milligrams." 

Stirling said Russell, whom media reports say is an American, was wearing a pilot's uniform and a Delta Air Lines lanyard when his baggage was "rejected by the x-ray machine due to the volume of liquids within it." 

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Delta plane arrives in NYC

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 passenger plane arrives at JFK International Airport in New York City on Feb. 7. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"You were shown the bottles of alcohol and said that you had not drunk recently, but that you had been drinking the previous evening," she continued. "You were required to give a breath sample, and you failed. You were upset about that." 

Prosecutors say Russell eventually gave a blood sample before he was charged with reporting for duty as a pilot while exceeding the prescribed blood alcohol limit. 

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Stirling said Russell was diagnosed with "Severe Alcohol Use Disorder," which he has since completed a recovery program for. 

DELTA AIR LINES FLIGHT DIVERTED TO ATLANTA AFTER LIGHTER-INVOLVED FLIGHT DISTURBANCE 

Edinburgh Airport entrance

Prosecutors say Lawrence Russell told investigators he was drinking the night before his arrest. (Reuters/David Moir  / Reuters Photos)

"The flight you were due to make to New York had to be canceled, and you are remorseful for the inconvenience that caused to your employer and the passengers on that flight," she also said. 

Delta Air Lines told FOX Business on Wednesday that it was "aware of this incident and removed the pilot from service while conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with Scottish authorities." 

The Delta Air Lines logo on a plane

Delta Air Lines tells FOX Business that Lawrence Russell has been let go from the company. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Russell has been let go by the airline, it added.