Drunk Canadian pilot sentenced to jail and a flying ban

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A “severely impaired” Canadian airline pilot who appeared to have passed out in the cockpit of an early-morning flight to Mexico on New Year’s Eve has been sentenced to eight months in prison and a one-year flying ban upon release, prosecution said on Monday.

The Sunwing Airlines flight, carrying 105 passengers and crew, was set to make two stops in Canadian cities before heading south to Cancun on New Year’s Eve last year.

At the time, police in Calgary said the crew noticed that the pilot was behaving oddly before he became unconscious in the cockpit. The pilot was escorted off the plane and charged with exceeding blood-alcohol limits while having “care and control of an aircraft,” police said.

Prosecution identified the pilot as Miroslav Gronych, a Slovakian.

According to a statement filed with a local court, police had observed that Gronych could not walk straight, his speech was slurred and he registered three times the legal limit for alcohol.

Sunwing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It said earlier that it had found another pilot to helm the flight that day and lauded the diligence of its other crew who had concluded “the captain was unfit to fly.”

Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Leslie Adler