19 November, 2017

SriLankan Airlines: Frankfurt Flight Delay – Captain Failed Breathalyzer Test

SriLankan Airlines’ flight UL 554 scheduled to depart from Frankfurt Germany on the 19th of August 2016 experienced a lengthy delay as the Pilot-In-Command Capt. Upendra Ranaweera failed a breathalyzer test at the airport prior to departure.

CEO - Suren Ratwatte

CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte Orders Inquiry And Suspends His Pilot Colleague

According to reliable sources, it was the assertiveness of the other two Co-Pilots Nuwan Gunaratne the current Assistant Secretary of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka and Shane Livera who informed their Chief Pilot Capt. Praveen Wettimuny in Colombo of Capt. Ranaweera’s abnormal behavior at the time of pick up from the hotel.

Our source speaking on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media said “Capt. Ranaweera delayed the other two pilots for a considerable period of time when it was time to depart the hotel. Eventually when Capt. Ranaweera came down the two Co-Pilots then realized that Capt. Ranaweera was not in a fit condition physically to operate the flight. They then phoned their Chief Pilot Capt. Wettimuny in Colombo and reported the matter. The Chief Pilot then instructed the SriLankan Airlines authorities in Frankfurt to ensure that a breathalyzer test be conducted by the medical authorities upon their arrival to the airport. It was then that it was detected that Capt. Ranaweera was above the permitted limit to operate the flight. Hence the flight was delayed and the airline had to incur a massive loss as they had to accommodate all the passengers in hotels, feed them and even pay compensation according to European Union regulations”.

“Capt. Ranaweera a former cabin crew member of the airline who rose to become a pilot did have similar issues in the past. He in fact even went on to complain to the Weliamuna led Board of Inquiry that the former Chief Operations Officer Capt. Druvi Perera was on a witch hunt and had him grounded and sent to be psychologically evaluated. In actuality it was Capt. Druvi Perera and a group of concerned pilots who had wanted to rather help Capt. Ranaweera by having him medically condemned and compensated due to these ongoing issues and rather give him a job on ground. Capt. Ranaweera’s problems were common knowledge to many in the airline including the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and its team of medical professionals. It can be confirmed that the former COO Capt.Perera had also officially informed the Director General Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka that he cannot entrust a million dollar aircraft and the lives of passengers and crew to Capt. Ranaweera and permit him to fly due to his ongoing issues. Thereafter the DGCA appointed a panel of doctors who cleared him medically and released his license to operate flights. Now this entire episode has completely blown up in their faces and it will be up to all of them at the CAA of Sri Lanka including its team of medical officials to take responsibility for this incident. After all there was an ongoing issue that they kept on sweeping under the carpet with regards to Capt. Ranaweera” he said.

A total of 259 passengers on board inconvenienced by this delay stand to be compensated 600 euro each. The flight eventually departed for Colombo 15 hours later.

It was reported that Capt. Ranaweera arrived in Sri Lanka today and was spirited away from the airport’s rear exit by the airline’s management, fearing the strong media representation outside the airport.

Capt. Ranaweera is currently taken off all duties pending inquiry.

Earlier SriLankan Airlines dealt with a similar booze related pilot incident in London Heathrow. In that incident the First Officer was terminated by the airline. However pursuing his case personally the First Officer got himself cleared by the United Kingdom authorities. Fearing a fundamental rights case been filed against the airline, the senior management requested him to return the letter of termination and instead promoted him as a Captain and posted him with Mihin Lanka where he is currently employed. ( Janaka Ranaweera @ Colombo Telegraph)

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Latest comments

  • 15
    11

    Reminds me of an incident which was reported to me when a Muslim guy and another passenger were sitting next to each other on a UL flight.The other seeing free alcohol being served on the flight was having one too many much to the annoyance of the Flight Steward and he asked the Muslim passenger by his side why he doesnt take advantage of the free alcohol being served on the flight.The Muslim replied “My religion doesnt permit the intake of alcohol”The passenger told him how stupid he was for refusing free liquor and was continiously having a dig at the Muslim for refusing the free offer..

    The Muslim guy by way of retort told the co-passenger “Ok if you can make the Captain of this flight take a few drams of Arrack while at the controls I too will participate in a drink with you”. The passenger replied “No way if he gets drunk he will bring the whole damn plane down with its 290 passeners”. The Muslim then told him that is why he avoids intake of alcohol not only for religious reasons but also because one man drinking (like the pilot now in question) could jeopardise the lives of hundreds of innocents.

    I think all airlines should make it a taboo to serve liquor on board(as at times we witness passenger brawls under the influence of booze)as much as they have done with smoking.

    • 7
      2

      Colin I full agree with you. Ban alcohol, and while at it charge an excess charge for those whose body mass ratio exceeds an agreed limit (whatever the healthy standard) and those with their bodies spills over to the adjacent passengers seat space. I hate flying for these two reasons, and hope that the airlines will clean up their act.

      BTW for general information,

      1. Every extra unit mass of flesh and fat requires 4 times the fuel mass to transport it by air. So there will be tremendous energy savings to be made if airlines are sharp and get busy. Also why should average-weighted passengers pay for the fuel surcharges of the bulky – given that fuel surcharges are evenly spread out to all passengers. Time to tell of the airlines.

      2. Alcohol is combustible and if there were to be a cabin fire, it would increase the risk of fire spread rapidly. So all those insisting on alcohol to douse themselves or carrying them to their destination are contributing to the risk of fire and negative outcome.

      3. Why don’t the airlines do something about it? First it is the turf war between airlines trying to maximize their profit …. the baskets! Nobody wants to be unpopular with the public, or certainly want to be seen as the first. If a world authority or national authority imposes such regulation airlines might accept it and implement. But then even the governments are involved in this business conspiracy. They want to strip the citizen the last penny that they could get hold of as taxes. More money changing hands, greater the tax they could trawl in; never mind the safety, passengers budgets and discomfort to victimized air travelers.

  • 10
    5

    Well done Captain. You are no son of Sri Lanka, you are an embrassment to the aviation community of our nation.

    15 hours grounded,that was the heading, I don’t want to imagine the amount of lost revenue.

    Why do we employ these clowns ?

    Pull your socks up Sri Lankan airlines, stop becoming the biggest aviation joke.

    Thousands of our children aspire to enter aviation,is this the example we are setting for them. Delinquency is a disease.

    Seriously are we better off not having an airline, as to paying millions of tax payer hard-earned money to pay ridicules penalties.

    God help our degenerates and save our children.

    We have already ruined their future.

  • 13
    0

    Whose picture have you used ? I hope that guy sues the pants off you !

    • 6
      3

      By the way who the F**ks are going to bare the compensation???? Tax payers . Not the stupid pilot and his kith and kin.He should be jailed.

  • 7
    10

    This is a fix by ……?
    Why was Capt not allowed to talk to media? What is there to hide?
    Why was there no spare crew ?
    Was he not over worked ! and refused fly due to ill , health?, overworked yes !
    Does the Air line have no alternatives to act ?than grounding a plane due one captain.
    He is among very few pilots who announced in Sinhala during flights so enemies in today’s sri lanka ?
    Captain Upendra was AFS Scholar, a brilliant Student at Trnity, gave of education after all 9 –A in O-levels due to financial strains. Today is caring for the family and the ailing mother .A fine son, father
    In Sri Lankan airline he was a leader among pilots was Secretary of Pilots association.
    He was among the few announce in Sinhala during flight a rare act that may not please many in today Sri Lanka

    Why is the big media habaloo unless it if fixed and followed by a media campaign
    Drunken pilot are common so is drinking in cockpit. google see the hundreds of cases of drunken pilots. Getting caught after flight-
    This is a fix by ……?
    Why was Capt not allowed to talk to media? What is there to hide?
    Why was there no spare crew ?
    Was he not over worked ! and refused fly due to ill , health?, overworked yes !
    Does the Air line have no alternatives to act ?than grounding a plane due one captain.
    He is among very few pilots who announced in Sinhala during flights so enemies in today’s sri lanka ?
    Captain Upendra was AFS Scholar, a brilliant Student at Trinity, gave-up of education after all 9 –A distinctions- grade in O-levels due to financial strains. Today he is caring for the family and the ailing mother .A fine son, father.He was great Kandyan dancer too a versatile character who made enemies due being straight.
    In Sri Lankan airline he was a leader among pilots was Secretary of Pilots association.
    He was among the few announce in Sinhala during flight a rare act that may not please many in today Sri Lanka

    Why is the big media habaloo unless it if fixed and followed by a media campaign
    Drunken pilot are common so is drinking in cockpit. google see the hundreds of cases of drunken pilots. Getting caught after flight-

    this episode is a fix -this is dog eating dog society-

    He was among the few announce in Sinhala during flight a rare act that may not please many in today Sri Lanka

    Why is the big media habaloo unless it if fixed and followed by a media campagin

    Drunk airBaltic crew included co-pilot at seven times legal alcohol limit …
    http://www.theguardian.com › World › Air transport
    The Guardian
    Aug 18, 2015 – But in recent years airlines have become even stricter on alcohol, according to CaptainTilmann Gabriel, a former airline pilot, who is now …

    Airline Gives Ex-Drunken Pilot a Second Chance – NYTimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/…/airline-gives-ex-drunken-pilot-a-second-c...

    The New York Times not only airline even in ships
    Drunken captain runs ship aground in German port – BBC News
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35907934

    About 12,900 results (0.63 seconds)
    Lyle Prouse
    http://www.lyleprouse.com/

    This is the story of the first airline pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying … his way to the pinnacle of commercial aviation, airline captain.

    Drunken pilot are common so is drinking in cockpit. google see the hundreds of cases of drunken pilots. Getting caught after flight-
    this is The cash-strapped airline is due to stop its flights to Frankfurt from October as it slashes routes to European destinations. It is also planning to lease out some of its A330 planes to other airlines in an attempt to raise cash. Suffering from an accumulated $1-billion loss, it is seeking a foreign partner to take over its management.
    Who would no- mad

    • 14
      1

      a)”Captain Upendra was AFS Scholar, a brilliant Student at Trnity, gave of education after all 9 –A in O-levels due to financial strains. Today is caring for the family and the ailing mother .A fine son, father In Sri Lankan airline he was a leader among pilots was Secretary of Pilots association. He was among the few announce in Sinhala during flight a rare act that may not please many in today Sri Lanka”

      b)Drunken pilot are common so is drinking in cockpit. google see the hundreds of cases of drunken pilots.

      The above reasons is what you subscribe in defence of Capt.Upendra.

      But I think its your nationalist fervour of he giving announcements in Sinhala that has prompted your plea for him completely overlooking the fact that hundreds of lives were at stake.

      I dare you to board a flight with your wife and children with the knowledge that the Captain at the controls is drunk. If you honestly agree to do so then the Jury’s decision stands in your favour

    • 7
      1

      what kind of a moron are you how is it relevant that he announces in sinhala and him being charged for being drunk?

      I think your a low IQ ultra nationalist who sees that announcing in sinhala is better than being drunk at the cockpit of a passenger airplane

      Would you allow ur family to be inside a vehicle driven by a drunk driver let alone a airplane

      Hats off to the Airline management who acted promptly and took action

  • 12
    3

    I must say Sri Lankan airlines culture is good, co-pilots informed
    about the captions condition that he is not fit to fly.

    Sri Lankan airlines so far had no major accidents and flight services
    are good.

  • 4
    1

    For sure he should be grounded – also should consider his situation sympathetically and not treat him as a criminal.

  • 0
    1

    I think as the punishment the Government should appoint him as a CTB Driver and after sometime promote him as the Railway Engine Driver!

    • 0
      0

      Last visit paid to lanka was few weeks ago. CTB bus or private bus drivers are careless by their nature. I thought these men would have learnt it as of now. Decades passed, nothing like in that line is achieved. Disipline and the respectful behavours accompanies ones life from the kindergarten on. Not only parents, but also schools must make every effort in contributing the building of fulfil citizens. In the past, Hamuduruwos did a key role in the building of the society. But to date, that has been changed a lot … I happened to see even Hamuduruwos were only busy iwth thier mobile smart phones rather than being SILWATH….. almost all values in such religious men have eroded to all deterioration levels. Sad but the truth.

  • 0
    0

    I thought Airlines have standard operational procedures which are to be strictly adhered .
    Please note that Captain Upendra who was also Manager for safety , should have been an example for others to follow.
    let’s treat this is as a very serious incident and show this as an example for the future pilots who want to drink and fly.

  • 0
    0

    Upendra was a model student at School.He is true patriot since he stayed with the national airline for 27 yrs.when others left to join foreign air lines,fearing Sri Lankan will colapse.
    He wouldn’t be in trouble if he did not testify in the Weliamuna commission and other acts against corruption…His code piilot(pilots guild member) “set him up” in Frankfurt…TRUTH WILL PREVAIL at the correct moment. Clipper Victor!

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