View Full Version : BA drug and alcohol tests begin

Devils Advocate
1st Aug 2004, 17:41
As report by the BBC's Business Section BA drug and alcohol tests begin (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3942397.stm)Drug and alcohol testing for all UK-based staff by British Airways comes into force on Sunday.

Employees will be subject to breath tests for alcohol, or urine tests for drugs, if they are suspected of being under the influence.

The company's move is an effort to extend legal limits for pilots, to cover staff at airports.

Tests will also be used if drugs or alcohol are thought to be involved in accidents at work.

The airline says it is offering confidential support for employees who may have a problem with drink or drugs.

Criminal offence

The new tests are in addition to a company policy which says staff must not be impaired by drugs or alcohol when at work.

And it follows the introduction of national safety laws giving police the power to breathalyse on-duty flight and cabin crew and engineers if they believe alcohol limits have been exceeded.

The alcohol limit for all ground staff will be the current UK drink drive limit of 80mgs of alcohol per 100mls of blood.

The 2003 Railways and Safety Transport Act limits flying staff to the nearly zero amount of 20mgs of alcohol per 100mls of blood.

And it makes being over the limit a criminal offence for flight staff and engineers.

2nd Aug 2004, 01:32
I thought that this was a legislative thing that affected all UK carriers, but it seems to be being presented as a BA thing: Have they added bells and whistles, or is this an issue to do with the reporting of the subject? Any advice would be appreciated...

2nd Aug 2004, 04:12
.... not new to me, We do have this random test since a long time.

one dot right
2nd Aug 2004, 07:14
hmmm. so when they discover that half the airline is using recreational pharmaceuticals,what then? Sack the lot of them?

Or, more realistically,cover the whole thing up and hang a couple of scapegoats out to dry as an example of what not to do.

Methinks the latter.

LightTwin Driver
2nd Aug 2004, 07:36
One Dot,

so when they discover that half the airline is using recreational pharmaceuticals

Such as ?

Where did you get such factual information ?

A and C
2nd Aug 2004, 09:53
I doubt if the tests at BA will find very much , the FAA tests in the USA have found a very low drug usage level in the airline business.

I suspect this has more to do with spin and political correctness than a "drug problem" within BA in particular and the industry as a whole.

2nd Aug 2004, 10:38
I think One Dot may be referring to certain groups within Cabin Services who are quite open about their drug habits.

Dan Dare
2nd Aug 2004, 11:15
ALL pilots, engineers, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and assistants come under the Railways and Transport Act.

BA has introduced limits and testing for ALL BA staff whether cleaner, Ops or director, so while it is not illegal to turn up to work with a skin-full it would now be an easy way to leave the company with no benefits.

2nd Aug 2004, 13:29
>>hmmm. so when they discover that half the airline is using recreational pharmaceuticals,what then? Sack the lot of them?<<

Yep, that's the law in the U.S.

Novel concepts like drug and alcohol testing and locked cockpit doors have been in place in the U.S. for many years.

Of course, some will inevitably whine that the right to fly drunk has been abridged and the right to use illegal drugs is a civil liberty. However, the traveling public probably is happier knowing that the crew has been a little more careful and sober before reporting for duty.

one dot right
2nd Aug 2004, 18:57
the point of my post was that the problem of drug/alcohol abuse is far more widespread than people realise(James Hewitt for example).
IF B.A were to adopt a surprise tactic for drug/alcohol testing then the likely result would be rather unpalatable for the airline due to the rather large number of staff that they would have to remove overnight.

My intention is not to attack individual groups but to point out that society as a whole (and I assume that even professional aviators cannot exclude themselves from this)is not as nice as some would like to think.

Ducks for cover.

2nd Aug 2004, 19:03
Dan Dare

Air Traffic Serivices Assistants do not come under the legislation unless they hold a FISO licence.

One dot right

If anyone is daft enough to go to work with Alcohol or drugs in thier system, having been warned that checks are to be mae, then they really shouldn't be employed in that sort of job should they!

Anyway, sacking people for this is cheaper than redudency.

Notso Fantastic
2nd Aug 2004, 19:13
onedotright- your posts are intentional mischievous, and I'll add, utter nonsense. It would be helpful if your profile would at least indicate the basis of your interest and where you speak from, but up to now you are spouting garbage.

I have not seen any evidence of drug taking by pilots in my 34 years in professional aviation. The measures being adopted by BA are not 'shotgun' approaches to drug detection, but very tightly regulated and largely directed towards the humanitarian approach to addiction, should it be located. I believe it is the act of a responsible employer. The responsibility of the employee is not to try drugs and assist others to drop them if discovered, through the employer.

I think you will find that pilots, controllers and engineers are all very aware of their responsibilities, and obey them. This legislation is to alow new employees to be checked, and those who have experienced an addiction to be monitored. It seems very fair to me.

Flip Flop Flyer
3rd Aug 2004, 13:30

I suppose it could be blamed on the cultural differences between the UK and Scandinavia, but I know a handful of pilots who occasionally inhale what Clinton didn't. I know quite a few engineers who, occasionally and generally in week-ends, sniff what Maradona has been submitted to hospital for over doing. I know ground handlers that'll do both while on duty.

On the other hand, I've witnessed first hand how some UK crews (to be read as crews from the UK flying UK registered aeroplanes) handle themselves in the bar at the downroute hotel, and that has happened quite a few times too. I am not in any way, shape or form indicating that there is a drinking culture among all UK crews, just that I've observed UK crews keeping the bartender busy till rather later, when they have to report for duty next morning. Neither am I saying they drink themselves blind, only that they certainly didn't obey the 24 hour or even the 8 hour rule about distance from bottle to throttle. To my mind, adults should certainly be allowed a beer/glass of wine or two with dinner, on top of the mandatory landing beer. But, that's it if you're flying early next morning. Sitting in the bar till it closes at 0200 with a 0600 reporting time is not wise in the first place, and having a few beers to go with it even less.

I do have one question, if you please: Could UK crews be subjected to random tests down route or only on British soil?

I am not trying to start a flame war, and if anyone takes personal offence to this post please take it for what it is, honest observations. However, I do belive that if we in the industry are not open about these problems ourselves, then some day someone will thrust very restrictive legislation upon us, and I for one would not like to contemplate the idea of being "illegal" over a landing beer, with 12 hours to go before chocks are off again.

I belive a landing beer after a long day prowling the skies is a divine right for anyone working as crew, and I would be gutted if the few who for some reason cannot limit themselves to one or two should ruin it for the many who can.

3rd Aug 2004, 13:45
I can't think of any accidents due to drugs or alcohol.;) In fact, in most cases the pilots were probably sober . :uhoh: therefore. . .

3rd Aug 2004, 13:52
Actually, you don't have to look very far to find such an incident (http://aviation-safety.net/database/2001/010123-0.htm) (this one due to drugs)...

3rd Aug 2004, 13:53
Flip Flop Flyer AFAIK... A landing beer has always been "illegal" as far as BA are concerned ,even if it is your own alcohol, as it is against company policy to be at work with more than 0.0% blood alcohol ...Knowing the company as I do, I despair for the future. Petty managers and anybody with a grudge can now cause real damage to peoples' careers and lives by making baseless allegations. For instance, I happen to know various Flt Ops mangers were at their desks last week after A.S's leaving bash. Various witnesses could smell the alcohol on their breath. Admittedly, they were doing office duties that day, but should they have been suspended/sacked? I'm not suggesting any one should operate an aeroplane over the limits, however these new rules and BA's interpretation is going to cause a lot of problems in the future.

Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 14:12
FFF- you make some pretty serious, unsubstantiated accusations against British crews there. Under the new Calvinism about- I would say it never happens now if it ever did to the extent you imply.

Lets get this straight- random tests are not allowed. Positive accusation is required for a crew to have to undergo testing. The new legislation applies to new entrants and those with a historic drug taking history only. I think out of fairness to staff, you should refrain from making such vague and serious accusations.

3rd Aug 2004, 15:08
Lets get this straight- random tests are not allowed.

It is if you've been on BA's books for less than six months!!

Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 16:10
If you reread the above posting, it says 'new entrants'. As a relatively unknown quantity, don't you think new entrants should be liable for more random testing?

3rd Aug 2004, 17:48

You refer to 'legislation'. Presumably its a typo and you mean BA rules.

The new act of parliament applies to anyone irrespective of thier service in a company, thats legislation.

If BA have started random tests then its done under employment contract and is nothing to do with law.

As for Pilots/Cabin crew not ever drinking or taking things you can't get at the chemists before they fly....The word that springs to mind means testicals!

I worked as Heathrow as a Policeman for 13 years, they do I can assure you, I have been at Court to see them convicted. I also lived with a cabin crew member, and she certainly went to work when she shouldn't have driven let alone flown. (At that stage there was no legislation on aircrew alcohol limits).

3rd Aug 2004, 17:58
bjcc According to the ANO , there has always been legislation re: working impaired due to alcohol or drugs. Many cabin crew may not have thought these rules applied to them though. The BA rules were lifted straight from the ANO.

one dot right
3rd Aug 2004, 18:07

In what way are FFF's comment unsubstantiated,he claims to have witnessed these events,or are you unsubstantiatedly calling him a liar?

Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 19:27
Well if you look on page 1 FFF claims to have witnessed far more than I ever have in 34 years professional aviation, in bars downroute. People in the bar at 2am and up at 6 to see them checking out for duty! Not bad for a 'ground handling instructor' eh! One that is prone to exaggeration methinks!

As for bjcc, I find your posting obscene as well as your spelling atrocious. I make no comments concerning cabin crew. Apart from working on the same aeroplane they bear no more similarity professionally with pilots than refuellers or caterers or engineers do, and I have no idea what they get up to off duty, just as I have no idea if engineers do indeed smoke funny substances at weekends. As far as I am concerned, whatever you feel you know about pilots and banned substances, I don't believe you know more than me about it- I've spent 34 years of being away half the month with them. Pilots are professionals and are very aware of their responsibilities and the fact that there are people all over the world dying to get a pilot's scalp on their belt- it seems to have become a sort of challenge thing. Random tests are still not allowed as far as I know, and if asked to carry out one, I will consult with BALPA for advice before agreeing to participate. So what is all this noise about that BA has introduced them? It's been done in a sensitive way- it seems to have dragged out responses and judgements from people who have nothing to do with it!

3rd Aug 2004, 19:48

You must have a very short memory.

Don't you remember the new BA757 captain getting back from the pub in Athens at 0500 and trying to report for an 0700 departure?

Don't you remember the BA F/O failing the breathaliser test on the M4 on his way to work?

Don't you remember the wonderful publicity promotion on Channel 4 that some of your colleagues managed to produce on a stopover in Spain?

Was there not some upset quite recently in Oslo?

Certainly, I have witnessed BA flight crews behaving quite badly in many a place from JFK to HKG and have even felt quite embarrassed to be British at the time.

Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 20:03
Out of many thousands of pilots, you are going back a long way to dredge up those few incidents. It doesn't happen anymore- there have been examples set and rules introduced, and a cold wind of righteousness now blows. People will not fly with other pilots inebriated.

3rd Aug 2004, 20:07
Until the next lot gets caught and then you will have egg on your face.

Turning up as pissed as a fart two hours before take-off is not what I, or the general public, would describe as an "incident".

Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 20:27
Perhaps we can try and keep this decent & civil?
People have turned up for duty above the limit set, which is lower than driving limits in the UK. I would not say they turned up in the state you describe. Some of those incidents are now history- are you still going to be dredging them up in 10 years? Most of those people paid with their jobs. I don't know what branch you make your living in, but I would bet that the addiction figures are probably worse than commercial pilots. But unlike you, I will not state any 'facts' without supporting 'evidence'.
Perhaps you could explain why 'BA Flight Crew behaviour embarrasses you from JFK to HKG', and why you feel you should take any personal embarrassment from it?

3rd Aug 2004, 20:41
Can I ask why so many seem to snarl at the random drug testing option?

3rd Aug 2004, 20:55

Nice to see you back spouting your ex-cop crap.

JW whats the matter. Is the "I couldn't get in BA" green eyed monster popping its little head out?

The fact is there have been incidents throughout history. All against the law and generally isolated.

Changed world now however.


Notso Fantastic
3rd Aug 2004, 22:09
This subject raises so much hot air, but how much of a potential contribution to safety is there? How many accidents can we put down to 'inebriated/drugged pilots'. You have to dredge the most obscure corners of the annals of aviation to actually find one. I see far more relevant dangers we should be worrying about- I think the alcohol/drug thing has been done to death! Look around....terrorism, congested skies, old equipment, poor ATC in Africa......and we are finely discussing page after page if crews end up having one drink too many too close to report time? Show me the actual danger happening now if it exists- I think it has been sorted out as far as humanly possible. I would prefer to see all the non-expert pprune 'pontificators' giving some brain power to the other far more relevant problems!

3rd Aug 2004, 22:30
Notso. You have done a good job so far in putting forward the mith that holding a pilots licence makes one a person apart from the norm. Fact is there are just as many pilots per capita who smoke funny stuff at weekends/push the drink limits/beat their partners or flout the law as any other group. Its human nature, and yes pilots are human or so I'm told.

cargo boy
4th Aug 2004, 00:08
How many times does it have to be pointed out the self righteous brigade that being 'over the limit' and being 'drunk' are two very different situations. You can be 'over the limit' but not 'drunk'. Whilst not condoning anyone who turns up for work whilst still 'over the limit', there is often a big difference between that and being a staggering drunk as the tabloids and media like to make out.

The limit for technical flight crew here in the UK is one quarter of the road legal limit. I have no doubt that there are many pontificators on here who will have at some stage in their righteous lives driven a motor vehicle after having had a drink at a restaurant say and been perfectly sober and well within the legal limit and certainly not drunk. That same person though would probably have been over the limit for operating an aircraft yet they were still not drunk. The media would no doubt make them out to be tottering slobs, barely able to stand up.

There are too many posters on here who are unable to differentiate between the two states and end up being as hypocritical as the media when discussing this sort of thing. The schadenfreude exhibited by those posters makes me cringe when they know perfectly well that a tiny minority of aircrew have been over the limit and been caught. They were punished several times over, both in their private lives and publicly. Quite a few of them, whilst technically over the limit were certainly not drunk.

Yes, there will no doubt be other cases from time to time but the numbers are miniscule when compared with many other safety related jobs. No doubt the 'holier than thou' brigade will once again jump on the bandwagon when the next pilot that is caught 'over the limit' and will of course dredge up old statistics to try and make up that it is somehow a common problem whereas in reality the numbers are miniscule.

I now wait for the inevitable chorus of outrage and accusations, (wrongly) that I somehow condone drinking and flying as long as you are not caught. Just remember that you can be 'over the limit' but not impaired by being drunk before some of you cast hypocritical accusations.

Notso Fantastic
4th Aug 2004, 00:25
Whatbolt, wherever did you get this 'factlet'?
<<Fact is there are just as many pilots per capita who smoke funny stuff at weekends/push the drink limits/beat their partners or flout the law as any other group. Its human nature, and yes pilots are human or so I'm told.>>

My opinion is pilots are far less liable to alcoholic addiction/substance abuse than the general population as we are all aware how critical our performance can be sometimes. That so few cases of abuse by pilots have come to light shows that the message is well known. It's just the publicity of individual cases is deafening!

There are far more important areas of safety to be looked at than this area where I cannot recall professional pilots in the UK causing an accident due to substance abuse or inebriation.

It is not irrelevant that a shorthaul pilot flying European rosters on a 6 day block can effectively end up being denied any relaxing drink for almost a week. Rather unfair when almost anybody else can have a relaxing drink after work and still go in the next day. 'So what, he's paid for it!'- not really- does his extra pay cover working all holidays including Christmas, unsocial hours, leave when availbale, not usually in holiday periods. To be denied the relaxation of a drink after work as well as doing 6 day weeks shows how hard the job has become. So it's easy for you 'experts' to preach with a wagging finger how you feel aircrew should behave, but you don't have to live under the stringent requirements there are now.

4th Aug 2004, 08:19
Cargo boy and Notso

Sense at last. The proposity and "expertism" here knows no bounds.


Flip Flop Flyer
4th Aug 2004, 10:09
Not going on anymore, you say? 1 week ago in Copenhagen. 2 weeks ago in Bahrain. 1 month ago in East Midlands. 2 months ago in Istanbul. Ehh, okay then, I suppose the crews in question entered and exited the hotels in fake (airline names intentionally deleted) uniforms just to raise a stirr then? Before someone asks, no, I will not provide the hotel names here - you journo types may safely conduct your own research.

Is this an issue only applicable to UK crews? Hardly, but they're the only ones I've personally witnessed and they are very, very visible.

You state that crews operating multi-sectors all day for 6 days haven't got time for a "relaxing" drink, indicating to me that they work flat out all year 6 days every week. Don't know about you, but I've never meet anyone working a roster like that. I am also intriqued as to what kind of FTL will allow people to work 16+ hours a day, for 6 days in a row. Please enlighten me. Besides, when I signed up to join this party it was made very clear, at least to me, that drinking to the extent that it would affect my performance the next day was expressly forbidden. A landing beer or a glass of wine for dinner, not a problem. As long as we stopped drinking well in advance if reporting early the next morning, effectively setting the limit at 1 or 2 drinks and stoppage time at STA - 8 hours. If one goes on a p1ss-up, then the 24 hour rule applies. Simple, very bloody simple. If allegedly responsible people have a problem adhering to these rules, maybe they are in the wrong line of work. If you absolutely must have a drink to relax, maybe there is a problem somewhere?

Finally, after that 6 day multi-sector week I suppose you'll get a few days off, where you may indulge to your heats content.

I'm sorry mate, but your attitude is a bit head in the sand, and denying that there is a problem, or claiming that a "relaxing" drink is almost a requirement baffels me slightly. I did indeed say that a landing beer is a divine right for aviators, and will stick to that statement. However, if I'm closing L1 at 2300 and have to report back again at 0600, then the landing beer is off. However, few crew to my knowledge work from 0600 to 2300, 6 days in a row. Personally, I can forego a landing beer once in a while. Reluctantly and bitching, obviously, but it can be done. And I'm not the one driving the aeroplanes, merely looking after the loading.


I hear what you are saying, and get the essence of what you are saying. The problem is that, while you may not be technically drunk the fact is that you may be over the limit, and therefore illegal. I didn't make the rules; I just have to follow them. Those rules were made clear when I signed the contract, and that is basically that. You probably know perfectly well that there are rules which, on the face of it, seems a bit daft. But where do you draw the line? For my part, the first objective of aviation is safety. Anything that can enhance the safety, or reduce the risk, is in my book a "good thing". Not necessarily easy, neat and tidy, but necessary to ensure that safety is as good as it can possibly get.

Do pilots really need a sim ride every 6 months to practice V cuts? How many times does that happen to your average pilot in real life? Do we need to practice emergency evac and fire drills every year, when the vast majority of us will luckily never experience an evac or cabin fire? Do we need a rule that says max. alcohol content in your blood stream is so and so, when most of us can hold a beer or two more, yet be perfectly capable of operating with 0.02% over the limit? To my mind, the answer to all of the above questions are "Yes, we do".

Notso Fantastic
4th Aug 2004, 10:32
FFF- I don't know what angle you have with pilots,but it seems some of your other problems are showing! Do you follow them around? Quite a lot of 'witnessing' for a 'Ground Handling Instructor' ('loader'?). You are making some very serious accusations that are so totally not borne out in my experience that I think you have an overactive imagination!

<<If you absolutely must have a drink to relax, maybe there is a problem somewhere?>>.....I don't actually drink myself. But when I am in a bar with crew, I am perfectly happy for them to relax however they so wish, as long as it is legal- so there! Nice try. Now for you.....I note your profile says 'anything involving beer'. Do you think perhaps your beer goggles are getting a bit overpowerful? Maybe you should see someone about your problem if alcohol consumption is so evil to you?

Now why don't you tell us what your angle is and why you try and muscle in so much on aircrew life? Maybe it will give us an insight into why you have so much to say and so many accusations to make! And I am no journo!

To 'enlighten you', you obviously have far less familiarity with pilot's shorthaul rosters than you pretend. If you knew anything about alcohol dissipation and European rosters involving long days, it is quite clear that on many 6 day blocks, it is not possible to have a drink throughout the block, and the night before. You obviously know diddly squat about it- I suggest in view of your ignorance you stop making so much noise about it!
PS........ and less of the 'mate' please.

Flip Flop Flyer
4th Aug 2004, 11:23
I'll pretend that I didn't understand the allegations you made, owing to my poor understanding of your mother tongue. Suffice to say that professionally I'm wearing more hats than I care to count, one of them being a flying loadmaster. Thus, one could postulate that I am indeed part of the crew, and that is where my interest lies. Or is it, in your book, only pilots that should take an interest in what goes on in the cockpit; cabin crew sticking to the cabin; engineers sticking to the oil can and so forth? Quite contrary to the CRM courses I've gone through, but never mind. That is my angle, Notso, the fact that from my point of view we're in this thing together. If this thread drifts in the way of how some ground handlers behave themselves, stand-by for a really flaming pen from this here poster! Alas, we are currently discussing flight deck crew and drinking. My observations are that UK crews, more than others, like to indulge a bit more than most and that they don't always look at their watches before calling it quits. If that runs opposite to your experience, then so be it. We all have a right to our own opinions, and I shall respect yours to the best of my abilities. Perhaps we should just agree on disagreeing.

Like I said previously, I don't have a problem with a landing beer or a glass of wine for dinner, I actually throughly enjoy it - fantastic way to wind down, have a bit of a banter and a laugh. Not always possible though, given the roster, and re-reading my contract it doesn't say anything about a right to a landing beer.

The "anything involving beer" statement was meant as an attempt at humour. I appreciate that in this context it could be misconstrued, but I hope this explanation will provide you with some sort of clarity.

The airline I work for is 99% multi-sector short-haul. Please get off the high horse will you? If your roster doesn't allow you to legally have a landing beer, then either change the roster (fat chance), forego the beer or change company.

And not a single "mate"!

The only problem I have with pilots is that there's not enough of them to buy the beers.

4th Aug 2004, 11:27

Sorry but I have never claimed to be great at spelling....irrelevent though it is to this.

I have to agree with serveal others who accuse you of a head in the sand approach. Pilots Doctors Police officers and every other occupation suffer from a percentage of people who have a problem with drug and alcohol abuse. However this isn't about those with a problem so much as stopping people carring out a job where they may be affected by taking either drugs (and not just the ones you can't buy in a chemists) and alcohol. No one is stopping you from relaxing with a drink when you are off duty, just they are stopping you from coming in with alcohol in your body. The same as a train driver or plenty of other occupations. You may well find any challange to your greater knowladge obsene, but the fact remains that pilots get arrested before and after flying with blood alcohol concentrations above the driving limits. If they are above the drink drive limit as you know they are certainly above those for flying.
More recent examples are the virgin pilot currently awaiting trail in the US and a more recent case at LHR.


Do you feel better now? Did the constables tell you off once? Leaving aside your petty abuse was there a point to your post?

cargo boy
4th Aug 2004, 12:08
However, if I'm closing L1 at 2300 and have to report back again at 0600, then the landing beer is off. However, few crew to my knowledge work from 0600 to 2300, 6 days in a row.

I'm sorry FFF but unless you're working for some third world, fourth rate cowboy operator, clocking off duty at 2300 and back on at 0600 is not possible. Of course, if you are then you are operating illegally... oops, I forgot, you're not actually technical flight crew are you! :hmm:

Also, your statement:Not going on anymore, you say? 1 week ago in Copenhagen. 2 weeks ago in Bahrain. 1 month ago in East Midlands. 2 months ago in Istanbul. Ehh, okay then, I suppose the crews in question entered and exited the hotels in fake (airline names intentionally deleted) uniforms just to raise a stirr then?leads me to believe that you are exaggerating, unless of course you are so familiar with every airlines schedules and rostering practices, together with a photographic memory of faces. Of course, you were around to watch all these crews arrive at the hotel reception, memorised their faces and which airline they were from whilst consulting your laptop for their rosters and when they were scheduled to next report for duty.

After your several hours watching reception you then come down to the hotel bar, the only place ALL those crews whose faces you had memorised and are now wearing civvies come to drink excessively. You now observe them and note how many drinks and what the content of each drink contains, especially the alcohol by volume % so that you can calculate their future blood alcohol level, and hang around until they all retire, probably in your mind to a private room party where drugs can be added to the list of recreational substances they are consuming. Of course, maybe you just went to bed early and assumed that they were all still drinking excessively before retiring for a 2 hour nap before reporting for duty at O'VeryEarly O'Clock? :hmm:

If you were so concerned at this level of abuse of the rules and the subsequent endangerment of so many innocent lives then why, as a fellow professional, didn't you do something about it? After all, we are all part of the same team aren't we? Perhaps not. I have been flying professionally for over 10 years now and the number of times I have stayed in hotels downroute on short, medium and long haul trips allows me to make the observation that your allegations are fantasy baseless. Even at the more popular crew hotels, there is no way you can know who is on what duty and from what airline. My points above about your uncanny ability to identify the numbers of crew you are so confident are abusing the rules prove to me, and no doubt most of the others who know otherwise, that you are full of hype and fantasy.

Yes, your job may involve an aspect of aircraft safety in as much as you have to supervise the correct loading of which gross errors can affect safety, but please, don't even begin to compare your skills to ours when it comes to our ability to to make serious mistakes. When our mistakes happen, our backside is usually on the line too. Who do you think is the first to arrive at the scene of an airline accident? Precisely because of this, as a group, aircrew tend to be much more aware of the problems and regulate their lives accordingly. The very few exceptions to this, when they make it into the media, are still exceptions even though the media like to use their literary licence to make out that 'over the limit' is actually 'staggering and boozy'. :rolleyes: FFF, your allegations are on a par with the media and based on my observations of your post and my personal experience as a professional pilot, you sir, are full of bovine manure! :*

Flip Flop Flyer
4th Aug 2004, 12:48
1: Read above; I am indeed part of a flight crew from time to time.

2: As a pilot, you are probably aware that we quite often all end up at the same old hotels ending with "ton" or "ott" or "plaza" despite what company we work for.

3: I'm terrible at faces, but it is fairly easy to recognize a UK crew sitting in the bar for three distinct reasons: a/ a mix of 2 blokes and 4-6 ladies, b/ they speak with an English accent and c/they talk very loudly about aeroplanes, bitch about rosters and their early start next morning, complain about their per diems and so forth. Get the drift? You've undoubtedly been there yourself. For other crews, of virtually any nationality or airline, replace b/ as applicable. It hardly requires an intimate knowledge of rosters or a Sherlock Holmes mindset. Plain old reasoning will do. And as you should know, crews over-nighting in Europe flying for a Europen carrier, with some exceptions of course, usually came in on the late and as good as always take the same aeroplane out early next morning. Hardly rocket science, but of course since it is not backed 100% by scientific data, I suppose sticking your head in the sand is an option. Pathetic, in my mind, but still an option. If, with your relatively modest 10 years experience, have yet to encouter this you must have led a sheltered life.

4: No, I don't count the drinks nor the alcohol %. I don't really care. But I have observed, on several occasions and all the ones mentioned in a previous post, that often they are among the last to leave the bar, having sat there for a few hours. Strangely, you rarely hear Italian, German, French, Swedish or Flemmish spoken at those tables, it's always English. Innocent until proved guilty, indeed. Sand, head, stick.

5: If you, with that wealth of experience so obvious from your post, can't fathom the possible lethal consequences of an incorrect loading then I suppose you've spend too little time on freighters. However, where did I ever say that my job had the same safety implications as a pilot? There are infinatly more ways your f.up can kill me than mine can kill you, which is just another good reason why we should all stay off the alcohol 8 hours prior.

6: "Don't dare compare skills". Oh, I'm sorry All Mighty Button Pushing God Of The Skies. I'm not worthy :yuk: Listen, you may think that being a pilot is the end all of human intellect. I have another opinion. You can't do your job without me, I can't do my job without you. Simple, really. Took me longer to get this job than getting an ATPL, had I chosen to. I chose not to, end of story.

7: My arse will be roughly .000002 miliseconds after yours arriving at the scene of an accident, being sat there in the jumpseat as the case often is. What is your point?

8: As a lowly loadmaster, FTLs doesn't really apply to us. So it is quite possible to finish up at 2300 (couple of hours after the flyboys went to the hotel) and be back at 0600 (couple of hours before the flyboys leave the hotel) and does happen a lot. You think you're the only who have it tough from time to time? You really should get out more and learn there is more to aviation than flogging aeroplanes from a to b and other professions in avaition than pilots. Some vastly more important, though not me - I'm just one small part of the team.

We all know what goes on guys, why are you so bloody afraid of admitting to it?

Hotel Mode
4th Aug 2004, 13:13
Re: "Plain old reasoning will do. And as you should know, crews over-nighting in Europe flying for a Europen carrier, with some exceptions of course, usually came in on the late and as good as always take the same aeroplane out early next morning."

That is actually VERY unusual for any UK based airline, certainly the 2 main carriers that night stop, as this is a split duty and limits the crew to 1 out 1 back which is inneficient rostering. They are also on duty for whole period and i have never known a crew leave their rooms on 1. Most Uk crews either arrive lunchtime and leave early morning, or arrive late leave lunchtime. So your assumptions are incorrect.

Flip Flop Flyer
4th Aug 2004, 13:24
Fair enough. Not my experience from talking to them though, but you may very well know something I don't. Doesn't really mean a great deal anyway, does it? Early morning departures following a long night in the bar is not on, even if you've been hotac'd for a week.

cargo boy
4th Aug 2004, 13:56
No one is saying crews don't have a drink in the bar when off duty. It's your inference that almost all UK crews that you see are drinking heavily, well into the 8 or 12 hours before their next report for duty that I and many of us have a problem with. You are like those 87.3% of people who invent statistics off the top of their head. Your generalising about the habits of UK aircrew that you allege you have observed are unfounded. I doubt you could swear under oath and identify one person who you had observed and truthfully say that you were, without any doubt, sure, that that person had consumed alcohol in breach of his companies Ops Manual rules AND that that person had reported for duty with an alcohol level that was above the legal limit AND then went on to operate an aircraft. If you could, and I'm of no doubt that you are going to claim that you can, then you are no worse than the same person you are accusing of being in breach of those regulations and laws.

To take this further, I would claim that you are generalising, as has been pointed out, just observing the fact that there are two guys and four ladies sitting together at a table which you claim to be able to overhear all their conversation about their early start the next morning and their bitching about their roster is just fabrication on your part. Your assumption that short haul EU crews do late arrival/split duty/early start already shows you up to have minimal idea about rostering practices. As a freight loadmaster, and being free from the incumberence of FTL's, you have even less idea about pax operations.

At the end of the day, by your own admission, you decided you didn't want to become a pilot even though you could have easily done the ATPL exams. :hmm: You decided that being a freightmaster was a much more rewarding career, no doubt because it kept you close to those of us at the sharp end. Yet, here we have you, with an admission in your profile that beer plays a big part in your life, pontificating and making unsubstantiated allegations against a whole segment of our profession that we take very little care of the rules when it comes to alcohol. You claim to be able to spot a crew at twenty paces who are breaching all the rules.

If you are so damned clever and sure of yourself then why haven't you done anything about it except cling on to our coattails here on PPrune and repeatedly spouted unsubstantiated rubbish. I put it to you that you are just a frustrated wannabe and are trying to make yourself sound more important than your job specification allows you to. May I suggest PFRuNe. I'm sure with your ESP you can figure out what the F stands for. :rolleyes:

Flip Flop Flyer
4th Aug 2004, 15:14
This is getting a little old hat. I never said anywhere I could easily pass the ATPL exam (though I have passed the written when it was called a "D" certificate). What I said is that being the holder of an ATPL license doesn't make you a God, and that the time required to hold the job I currently do took longer than getting an ATPL would have, had I decided to go that route. You really should read what I wrote instead of what you think I wrote. A "freightmeister" (cool term by the way, thanks) is only a part of my job, a fact that could not possibly have elluded you had you taken the time to read rather than interpret previous postings.

Nowhere have I made general assumptions, only that I've personally witnessed (and listed the occasions) where I've encountered UK crews in hotel bars doing things that I found to be rather stupid. You are of course entitled to defend your fellow pilots, that is an applaudable trait, but to do so blindly is, in my opinion, foolish. I'll defend my collegues too, but not if I know they've done something wrong. We all make mistakes, experience errors of judgement, have a brain fart - call it what you like. To my mind, making a mistake is human. Learning from that mistake and take appropriate action to ensure it will not be repeated, is an integral part of holding any job of responsibility. I've made my fair share of blunders, and must also admit to a few cases of repeat blunders as much as it stings. But I try my best, and I certainly don't stick my head in the sand.

You may safely claim whatever you please, as luck would have it I'm rather thick skinned. But to place judgement on a person you've never met, based on a few postings on an anonymous bulletin board is, well, not the way I was thought psychological profiling. 20+ years in this business does teach you a thing or two, but I'll leave you with your convictions and merely hope they don't come back and bite you one day.

Enough is enough, and this is where I'll throw my toys out of the pram and retreat to the nearest bar. For I do enjoy beer tremendously, and I'm working the office this week so can legally drink till I fall off the bar stool, and report back tomorrow (on flex-time and for non-safety implication duties) suffering severe hangovers. Sticking to the ground has it's merits.

Keep the blue side up.

Notso Fantastic
4th Aug 2004, 15:27
I have no interest in Loadmastering, I have no interest in Loadmaster scheduling limits, I have no intention of ever flying an aeroplane with a Loadmaster on board. A loadmaster may be part of the team checking the aeroplane's loading, but I do not see a Loadmaster as part of the 'crew'. A Loadmaster is nothing more than a 'Chief Loader' required to come along for the ride. I doubt I would even have you on the Flight Deck (unless the aeroplane started tipping up peculiarly!). I think your outfit should be warned what a snitching, lying, exaggerating individual they have trying to nail them!

bjcc- thank you for pointing out that pilots have been known to be arrested before and after flying above driving limits. Er........so have Police Officers......frequently......and speeding. Funny thing is they know the ways to get off speeding convictions (Princess Ann's driver?). It happens in any job- even a Chief Constable got zapped for driving over the alcohol limit. It happens. All you can do is try and minimise it with sensitive help from the employer.Which brings us back to the start of this thread- BA just introducing sensitive (and sensible) monitoring of new employees and those with a 'history'. Are we all agreed it is good? Shall we put this to bed to stop frustrated non-pilots venting their spleen abouot pilots now?

4th Aug 2004, 16:00
Will this equipment also be mandatory in a/c flight decks soon ??

some companies will probably think so !!

4th Aug 2004, 16:14
Seems fair enough to me. The biggest problem with the alcohol limit is that the individual has no reliable way of measuring his/her alcohol level at the time of reporting for duty.

We're used to working to limits (FTL, crosswind, mtow, speeds etc) where there are reliable means of measuring them. With the alcohol limit, every time you turn up for duty, you don't know where you're at.

Get a green light, go flying, get a red light, go home - simple.

4th Aug 2004, 17:42
For the technically challenged, this is what he's on about:

An alcolock, or more formally in Euro-bureaucrat-speak a “breath alcohol ignition interlock device” (BAIID), is fitted to a car’s ignition to stop a driver from starting it if he’s over the drink-driving limit. The device is seen as a way to stop people who have been convicted of driving under the influence from offending again. Trials have been taking place in recent years in the US, Australia, Canada, and Sweden, though not always under this name. The European Union has been conducting studies to see if it ought to be adopted throughout the EU and as a follow-up to this investigation a trial is to take place in two areas of the UK shortly. Supporters of the scheme argue that it helps to prevent repeat offences.

In Sweden 1,500 Volvo trucks have been fitted with the Alcolock.

The “alcolock” requires the driver to take a breath-test before the ignition can be turned on and activates a lock if the result is above a certain level.

4th Aug 2004, 18:31

"bjcc- thank you for pointing out that pilots have been known to be arrested before and after flying above driving limits. Er........so have Police Officers......frequently......"

I am not aware of Police Officers being arrested for drink driving before or after flying. If it happens frequently as you clearly state, then I wonder why the press hasn't cottoned onto Police officers moonlighting as pilots while p***ed?

This topic is not about police speeding but as you bring the subject up, many people get a warning for speeding, in fact I have never reported anyone for speeding...only issued warnings.

I am not a pilot, nor am I frustrated about it. I have a different experience to you. OK so you may not have been on a flight deck with a drunk or someone who is unfit to fly, but I have. It goes on, accept it. Perhaps it doesn't to the extent that some have implied, perhaps it does, like you I am not omipresent and couldn't say. While your comment about BA introducing a sensible policy is commendable, why attack people who have a different opinion?


A good point, but one that applies equaly to any job where there is a limit of alcohol levels. In fact the same thing applies to anyone who drives...Lorry drivers and cab drivers have been saying the same for years. Not to mention the chap who has just piopped down the pub for one....

4th Aug 2004, 19:02
It isn't dirty laundry which should be hung outside really,

on a public forum , that is.

5th Aug 2004, 18:37

Do British Airways pilots not do CRM courses? I was quite astonished at your remark:

"I doubt I would even have you on the flightdeck".

That is an amazingly infantile remark for someone who claims to be a professional pilot. When I started in this game, there were four of us on the flight deck and a loadmaster in the back (who wore, quite rightly, aircrew wings). The co-pilot was very definitely the sprog on the crew and he HAD to earn respect from the old hairies, including the loadmaster, otherwise his life would be a misery until he grew up. (Growing up is a novelty that I suspect you have yet to experience).

It is quite obvious that you are only able to commune with one other guy and a bunch of computers on a flight deck. How very, very sad for you do not know what you are missing.

You are quite right in saying that you will never fly on an aircraft with a loadmaster. I don't think you could hack it!

Notso Fantastic
5th Aug 2004, 20:38
<<Certainly, I have witnessed BA flight crews behaving quite badly in many a place from JFK to HKG and have even felt quite embarrassed to be British at the time.>>

<<Until the next lot gets caught and then you will have egg on your face.

Turning up as pissed as a fart two hours before take-off is not what I, or the general public, would describe as an "incident".>>

Does it fit your definition of CRM to refer to Flight Deck crew as 'lot'? I'm afraid I'm quite astonished at your remarks- you seem to derive great pleasure at the several incidents you refer to where people lost their jobs. No need to feel shame- you are not responsible. If hard working crews want to relax a bit and skylark- that is their business and you don't need to put on a beret and stripey tea-shirt and pretend you're French!

A loadmaster is a flying loader and certainly has no business on the Flight Deck, certainly as they seem to be so dead keen to snitch.

Let's leave out the personal abuse OK? This is not a 'game'. It is a serious job, and a very, very hard working one at that. Some people haven't been able to separate work from rest adequately (not surprisingly- the root of the problem lies in extreme fatigue and disrupted lifestyles). They have paid with their jobs sadly. I don't know (or care) what sort of flying existence you describe (from circa 1949?). It has as much relevance to today's aviation as hand held ADF sets! Let's put this utter boredom down now- most seem to agree BA 's measures are reasonable, so I will now leave you to pontificate on your bizarre ideas of aviation and crewing (circa 1949) on your own.

Old King Coal
6th Aug 2004, 06:06
W.r.t. BAIID's..... prior to going our for a drink, inflate a balloon ( or some such container ) with non-boozy breath.

Having imbibed, take said balloon and propel its contents through the BAIID ( Nb. this might prove to be the tricky bit, i.e. when one's had a skin full ).... bingo, BAIID gives green light.... and off you go weaving yer merry way down the street ! :}

One could even keep a small cylinder of compressed air in the trunk of the vehicle, for those times when you're too bladdered to get the balloon onto the BAIID at the first attempt.

I foresee a whole new industry out there. :ok:

6th Aug 2004, 06:27
If random testing were introduced l would position my testing personnel downroute on longhaul flights for some positive results.That is where your cabin crew,particularly limp wristed ones will be over .02 or will test positive for substances.I can guarantee it. i would recommend Australian destinations,SFO and south america(sao paulo) for a start.

Lost For Words
6th Aug 2004, 13:56
At the risk of changing track a little here, has anyone actually been randomly tested?

It hasn't happened to me personally but I certainly heard of guys being picked out and breathalysed at AMS on their way to the jet first thing in the morning.

Are there any other airports where this practice occurs?

Maybe BA should do a quick morning of testing everyone who gets on the bus... Not as a witchhunt but just to remind everyone that it 'could happen to you.' They certainly do it from time to time when looking for customs cheats.