Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes were found guilty of operating a plane while intoxicated or in a reckless manner.

The pair was arrested in July 2002 after boarding their America West plane at Miami International Airport and preparing if for a domestic flight to Pheonix.

Airport employees alerted authorities after smelling alcohol and noticing their eyes were bloodshot.

Their Airbus 319 was moving towards the runway and preparing for takeoff when they were ordered to return.

“They were about five or six minutes away from flying,” said Assistant State Attorney Hillah Katz, one of the prosecutors.

Tests at a police station two hours later showed their alcohol levels topped the legal limit of 0.08 percent alcohol in the blood.

Cloyd and Hughes tried to move their case to federal courts where the blood alcohol limit is a higher 0.10 percent.

They also unsuccessfully argued they didn’t have direct control of the plane because it was being towed by a small vehicle on the ground.

The tug driver, who was the lone defence witness, testified the plane’s engines were off and the steering disabled but acknowledged he acted only on orders from the pilots.

The court heard how Cloyd and Hughes had been playing pool and drinking heavily the night before.

They left a Miami bar around 5am after drinking nearly 10.5 litres of beer and showed up late for the 10:30 am flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration, whose rules bar pilots from drinking alcohol fewer than eight hours ahead of a flight, revoked their commercial pilots’ licenses.

The pair, who will be sentenced on July 20, was fired by America West soon after their arrests.