All three Northwest Airlines cockpit crew members whose licenses were revoked for allegedly flying under the influence of alcohol have dropped requests for expedited hearings to contest the revocations.
The National Transportation Safety Board on Friday canceled hearings set to begin Tuesday in St. Paul on the March 8 Northwest flight from Fargo, N.D., to Minneapolis in which the three men were involved.The NTSB received letters from attorneys for co-pilot Robert Kirchner of Highland Ranch, Colo., and flight engineer Joseph Balzer of Antioch, Tenn., saying they waived rights to expedited hearings.
The letters asked that the cases go to the board's non-emergency calendar, which means that the appeals will be heard within the year. A few days earlier, Capt. Norman Prouse of Conyers, Ga., waived his right to an expedited hearing.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked the licenses March 9 after the three were accused of flying a Northwest jet carrying 91 passengers while intoxicated. The three appealed.
The crew members, who have been fired by Northwest, were charged last week by federal authorities with flying under the influence of alcohol. The case is to go before a grand jury.
Mark McDermott, an attorney for Kirchner, said Friday that he wants to focus on the felony case.
``The criminal charges are quite serious and carry serious penalties,' he said. ``The pilot's license cases have to take a back seat, temporarily.'
According to an FBI affidavit, Kirchner and Balzer shared about seven pitchers of beer at a bar in Moorhead the night before their flight, while Prouse allegedly had about 19 mixed drinks.
Attorneys for Kirchner and Balzer have denied that their clients were drunk or impaired during the flight.