Drunk on an Aircraft

Being drunk on an aircraft will not be tolerated and will be met with an immediate custodial sentence, even for those of previous good character and with no previous convictions, the Court of Appeal has recently ruled.

Being drunk on an aircraft is an offence under Article 139(1) of the Air Navigation Order 2009, and carries a maximum sentence of up to two years imprisonment. The Court of Appeal, hearing the appeal of Arumugan Kupendrarajah against a sentence of 5 months imprisonment for being drunk on a flight from Sri Lanka to London Heathrow, made it clear that the starting point for such offences will always be an immediate custodial sentence. In refusing the appeal the court noted:

This court has made clear time and again that those who become drunk in an aircraft in flight must expect an immediate custodial sentence. The experience of a drunken person in the confines of an aircraft is terrifying, not least on a long-haul flight, and poses a risk to safety. It is  not unusual that such offences are committed by those of good character and with significant responsibilities to others. However, that provides no basis for avoiding the immediate custodial sentence which such offences must typically compel.