View Full Version : Proposed Law on Drugs/Alcohol in Aviation

18th Feb 2003, 11:10
Railways and Transport Bill

The Department for Transport has issued a press release regarding this Bill, which was laid before Parliament on 14 February. The paragraph I have extracted below may be of interest to pilots, controllers and perhaps engineers too. I am not sure what the 'related measures' will be or how far the definition of 'others with safety critical functions in aviation' extends, but perhaps somebody out there may be able to throw more light on these issues?

"Alcohol limits and related measures would be introduced for crews on water-borne vessels, and for crew members and others with safety-critical functions in aviation. The limits would be enforced in a similar fashion to how drink-drive limits are enforced on the roads, with the police given powers to test individuals if a reasonable suspicion exists that an offence is, or has been, committed. "

Are we going to see police officers in the future asking pilots questions such as 'is this your aeroplane sir/madam? or 'please can you blow into this bag sir/madam?'

18th Feb 2003, 14:05
Looks like it's copied from U.S. regs that have been in place for years.

See: http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/regulations.html

18th Feb 2003, 14:18
Its been in force in other areas of the transport industry for a while. Generally the way its enforced is two fold:

- Random testing where a specialist screening company turns up on site and randomly picks staff members to provide a sample in a cup! This is sent away and results appear a week or so later.

- During promotion or relocation you attend an actual medical centre before taking up your new duties and go through same process. The difference being that you know this one is happening.

The random one tends to get those who have had a few too many the night before but both will catch those who have been taking something a bit stronger than nicotine.

So the old Bill won't be following you down the taxiway with blues-n-twos...

B Sousa
18th Feb 2003, 15:37
phd writes:
"Are we going to see police officers in the future asking pilots questions such as 'is this your aeroplane sir/madam? or 'please can you blow into this bag sir/madam?'"

After what I have seen in the news lately, I can only say that We in the aviation industry have brought it upon ourselves. Even though its a small percentage in relation to other jobs, when Airline Pilots get tested and blow twice the legal limit for a DUI, AFTER they have flown, its no surprise.
Im sure, as with DUI, they will have to have some probable cause. If not I think I would tell them to pound sand.

18th Feb 2003, 20:14

The UK does not currently have in place any Regulations such as those stipulated by the FAA for monitoring drug/alcohol misuse within aviation, or for that matter for crews of ships at sea. This is an anomaly as I believe both train drivers and drivers of heavy goods vehicles in the UK are subject to testing at initial employment and then randomly.

I am not sure it is either a good or bad idea to have random testing but it does appear to be illogical to have such rules for some forms of mass transport and not others. I believe the Masters of both the Exxon Valdez and the Marchioness River Boat on the Thames had excessive alcohol in their bloodstreams at the time they lost control of their vessels - and their command capability was certainly judged to have been impaired because of this.

The proposed Railway and Transport Safety Bill looks as though it aims to address this anomaly in the Regulations.

18th Feb 2003, 20:50
Being closely associated with the tube i would like to say that since the introduction of random drug _and_ alcohol test the incidence of abuse, of alcohol at least, was cut, almost overnight. I'm not sure how prevalent drug abuse was.

Anyone is subject to random testing. If a manager suspects abuse by a member of staff they can arrange to meet the Transport police at a location to test said member of staff.

Personally i support this policy i have long waited to see it introduced into aviation. I believe it is not just the airlines that require it but instructors. From my happy ppl learning days i probably shouldn't have gone up with my instructor on occasions. :rolleyes:

I can't remember whether this was highlighted during a hostestess' BA pilots drinking 5 minutes before T/O but one of the old eastern block countries test every pilot before they board?

Genghis the Engineer
18th Feb 2003, 21:04
I can't see anything wrong with this - any form of substance use which affects safety, regardless of whether it's legal or not, is totally unacceptable in anybody from the captain to the ground crew's tea-boy.

And also it's worth looking at it this way. If after any initial campaign no problem is found, the powers that be will divert their scarce resources elsewhere and leave us alone. If they do find a problem, it can be dealt with.


18th Feb 2003, 21:07
The Bill currently only provides for the testing by "a constable in uniform" where he "reasonably suspects that the person is committing an offence".

There is no requirement for random testing.

The Nr Fairy
19th Feb 2003, 09:25
A police officer stopping a car cannot do so for the purposes of randomly breathtesting the driver.

A police officer can, at any time, stop any car for a documents check. If, while speaking to the driver, the police officer thinks the driver has been drinking, he can require the driver to undergo a roadside breath test. Not random, but because during the "chat" reasonable suspicion was raised, the officer can require a breathtest.

I can see the same applying to aircraft - if you happen to chat to a copper on your way through the airport and he thinks you've been drinking, hey presto - reasonable suspicion. Again, it's not random but the "Ways and Means Act" an be used to make it effectively so.

19th Feb 2003, 12:23
If this is implemented as it has been in other sectors of the transport industry and safety critical posts then it will be a requirement of employment that you submit to a test when asked. If you refuse then they sack you, if you have nothing to hide you submit to the test.