A SkyWest pilot scheduled to fly a Delta Connection flight out of South Dakota's Rapid City Regional Airport was arrested Wednesday morning on charges that he was intoxicated, the Rapid City Police Department says.
The local Argus Leader newspaper reports that Rapid City Police were notified that a pilot smelled of alcohol shortly after 8 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to public information officer Brendyn Medina.
Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said via Twitter at 12:55 p.m. ET that police had arrested a Skywest Airlines pilot for “operation of an aircraft while intoxicated.” To be arrested for operating an aircraft while intoxicated, the blood alcohol level has to be above .04, according to the Argus Leader. The pilot taken into custody is 38 years old, the newspaper reports.
SkyWest flies regional aircraft on feeder routes for major airlines Delta, American and Alaska Airlines.
SkyWest told Today in the Sky the pilot had been removed from flying duty while the company investigates the charges.
“SkyWest holds its employees to the highest standards of professionalism and the safety and security of our customers and people are our top priority,” SkyWest said in the statement. “We apologize to our passengers for the delay of SkyWest flight #4574, operating as Delta Connection from Rapid City to Salt Lake City, due to a crewmember issue. The crewmember has been placed on administrative leave and removed from flying duties as we investigate this situation. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement’s investigation into this matter."
From Rapid City, SkyWest flies under the Delta Connection brand to Delta’s hubs in Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Salt Lake City. The flight in Wednesday’s incident was Delta Connection Flight 4574 to Salt Lake City. The flight -- a Canadair CRJ200 regional jet, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware -- had been scheduled to depart Rapid City at 8:30 a.m. local time. Delta’s website shows the flight departed late at 10:38 a.m. local time.
"The system worked the way it is designed to ensure passengers' safety was not compromised," Jegeris, the Rapid City Police Chief, said in a tweet.