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THE COURIER MAIL, PERTH NOW, BRISBANE TIMES (Australia)

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Qantas has confirmed it has stood down a female captain from duties after she was suspected of drinking before a flight from Sydney to Brisbane last week, reports the Courier Mail.

According to the Brisbane Times, the incident occurred as the Qantas aircraft was about to depart for Brisbane. Flight attendants on the Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which can carry 254 passengers, informed the airline's flight operations managers that they suspected the captain of the plane had been drinking.

Qantas pilot stood down for drinking on the job. Claims she misinterpreted their motto "Spirit of Australia".

— Dan Anstey (@Dan_Anstey) August 6, 2012

A passenger on board flight QF516 said the aircraft taxi-ed out to the runway before the female pilot announced there was a problem and they needed to turn back, said the Courier Mail.

The newspaper says the captain was breathalysed, in line with normal Qantas procedures. According to Perth Now, it is not known what reading the pilot gave, but Qantas -- like all airlines -- has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to pilots drinking alcohol before flying any aircraft.

The Australian Civil Aviation and Safety Authority has performed 54,000 drug and alcohol test on pilots, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and baggage handlers since 2008, says the Courier Mail.

 Only 45 of those tests, or 0.08 per cent, came back positive -- and none of those results were related to pilots.

If this is determined to be a one-off incident, writes the Brisbane Times, the pilot will be expected to undergo counseling and later a medical assessment to determine whether she is fit to fly. But if it is a long-term problem, she will be suspended from duties.

Qantas captain in charge of plane when drunk. Passengers became suspicious during unscheduled stopover at kebab shop. #Qantas

— adam rozenbachs (@arozenbachs) August 6, 2012

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