View Full Version : Drunken pilots the latest air-scare

19th Jun 2003, 12:30
Gotta love the headline writers...


Drunken pilots the latest air-scare

Growth in the number of airline pilots failing sobriety tests has led the US government to tighten procedures to keep those caught drunk out of the cockpit.

Last year 22 commercial airline pilots in the US tested positive for alcohol use, up from nine in 2001, and nine pilots have tested positive so far this year, according to a report in The Australian.

That's only a fraction of the about 75,000 US airline pilots but enough to cause the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish new procedures for dealing with drunk pilots.

The jump in numbers has led the FAA to change its policy so that pilots who failed sobriety tests immediately have both their medical and airman's certificates revoked. Both certificates are required for a pilot to fly. Previously only the medical certificate was revoked in cases of drug or alcohol use.

An increasing number of pilots caught drunk while on duty does not necessarily mean more intoxicated pilots are trying to fly planes, according to a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilots' union. “It may mean more are getting caught.”

19 June 2003



A similar headline from politically correct CNN (where a rioter is labeled a 'community activist' and an illegal alien is now an 'undocumented migrant'):

FAA tightens policies for drunk pilots


19th Jun 2003, 16:21
What is the allowable alcohol limit in the US?

I think under planned JAR it will be 0.2 max [20mgs/100mls] for pilots. I think this is the same as the driving limit in Sweden.

Engineers up to 0.8

19th Jun 2003, 17:26
Most states .08 and the rest .1 for driving cars. In Australia it's .05.

19th Jun 2003, 17:59
The tolerance for this should be....ZERO! Throw these pricks out on their @rse. That could be my family in the back of that jet.
If this continues to be a problem, there should be a 24 hour rule imposed. No drinking within 24 hours of a scheduled flight and anyone caught breaking this rule would be fired!

19th Jun 2003, 19:38
I think you will find that even those who do not drink alcohol at all will have a very small amount present due to normal metabolic functions. A figure of up to 5mg/100ml springs to mind.

Somewhere is the region of 15mg/100ml alcohol per hour is broken down by healthy liver function.

Therefore up to 5 units [ the recommended maximum ] of alcohol should be removed by the liver prior to duty which is consumed in the preceeding 8 to 24 hours, with no alcohol intake 8 hours before work.

Super Constellation
19th Jun 2003, 21:10
Alcohol meters do have tolerances. And the metabolic body function (as ECJ pointed out) counts when measuring alcohol qty in the body. Ally this two enemies and you know that there must be a residual limit in order not to put every single pilot in jail :cool: .

Safe flights

19th Jun 2003, 21:32
The human body normal reading is 0.02

Devils Advocate
19th Jun 2003, 21:42
Uhm, so the human body normal reading is 0.02 is it ? Right.... "saudipc-9 you're fired !"

And whilst we're at it let's also fire those military fast jet jocks who're tearing about in the sky stoked on 'uppers' in order to help them from falling asleep - indeed is it any wonder there are so many f'ups..... err, I mean 'friendly fire incidents' !

Yep, lets chuck common sense out the window and have some more rules !

20th Jun 2003, 01:00
Last year 22 commercial airline pilots in the US tested positive for alcohol use, up from nine in 2001, and nine pilots have tested positive so far this year, according to a report in The Australian.

How many of them failed the blood alcohol test. If there were 22, we'd have heard about it. At least several of the guys that recently tested "positive" on the breathalyzer (at the behest of the tsA drone that "caught" him), were subsequently found well below the limits on the blood test. Funny how THAT never makes the headlines.

The tsA should stick with what it knows best. Groping crotches on flight attendants, kids and the elderly as well as pilfering small tools and toiletries from flight crew........

20th Jun 2003, 02:17
Im with saudipc-9, and his comments seconded!
There is NO excuse whatsoever for drinking ANY alcohol 8hrs prior to flying - PERIOD. The legal limit in my opinion should be 12hrs+. Why not ? If the figure of 0.02 is indeed correct, then with a 50% buffer (accounting for sex,body mass and size) the limit should be lowered to 0.03%. However, the way that the tests and results are undertaken needs thorough investigation !!
No excuses -

20th Jun 2003, 05:19
It's a lack of common sense and judgement that results in a rule being made. Those two America West pilots were demonstrating huge amounts of SA when they tried to fly!!
You will also note, I said the "TOLERANCE" should be zero for this type of incident....So am I re-hired?
The "uppers" are a whole different story but not the cause of the Blue on Blue in Afghanistan

20th Jun 2003, 05:43
What do the people who would ‘hang’ the allegedly ‘drunk pilots’ think about the fatigued pilots who’s level of performance after a typical long night duty exceeds the equivalent drink driving level?

The allowable alcohol level at ¼ of the UK drink driving level is effectively zero. So it may well be the case that someone who has had a beer or a glass of wine the night before with his or her meal could possibly fail a test the following morning. Under these circumstances would you really accuse them of being drunk? And do they represent any danger to anyone?

Seems to me that it is OK to be so exhausted that you can’t think straight, just as long as you haven’t been near a drink for a couple of days. Logical?

20th Jun 2003, 06:58
Good Point.

Studies being conducted in Australia for a Fatigue Risk Management Study indicate that some pilots are operating aircraft at an equivalent blood alcohol reading of 0.05 due to the fatiguing nature of the patterns they are required to fly by their company.

20th Jun 2003, 09:05
Well, until the patent is approved on the fatigue-alizer I believe we can forget the comparison here.

20th Jun 2003, 09:27
I dont think so BIGBEERBELLY. I am not for one second saying we should go to work while having had a drink, BUT more and more it is being proven that long hours and min rest produces the same results. As you are in the US, you perhaps are under a good ALPA bargined roster, that prevents fatigue. Go and fly for a year with some of your UK "equals" and you will soon find out how it feels at the end of a 15 hour back of the clock day, with min rest, to go and do it all again. No, not having a beer maybe one part, but there is much more to this story...... and cotemplating it in a 5 star hotel, on Award mandated rest, will not help the situation.

20th Jun 2003, 19:14
So it wasn't a good idea to have un verre de la vieux vin rouge avec dejeuner whilst the plane was being refuelled at Istres le Tube then? It WAS the check captain's idea and we WERE in the military so I'd say that made it OK :rolleyes:

Seriously, though, I'd rather have had one glass of wine with lunch than be so tired that I have to force myself to think.

. . . and, of course, the recent UK court verdict where the accused was found culpable for driving whilst tired will have direct consequences for any of us or for shift workers driving home after duty. . . . it's a worry :(

Chocks Away
20th Jun 2003, 22:14
For Australia, the allowable/legal limit on the ROAD, for professionals (Heavy vehicle/truck licence) is 0.02, to allow for Prescribed non-hallucinate medications. :uhoh:, not in the air though!

JaketheMuss brings up the Golden Goose, in that Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue result in equivalent forms of sobriety to being drunk (0.05- driving/ 0.0 tolerance flying).

Fatigue studies have been and are being carried out continuosly and a long time overdue, because computer rostering has been able to Maximise the limits of our duty regulations (CAO 48.0 in Auz), which are now old and antiquated, with regard to our new technology.

There is, of coarse no room for abuse of the "turps" on overnights and this was covered in earlier contributions above (see also "Where are the good ol days" ) but this abuse may be tied back to the ever increasing stresses of the job nowdays!?

The fact remains, Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation DO have equivalent effects of Alcohol.:\

Aust. A.F.A.P running a Study/Conference on this topic This week (24th-29th June) in Melb

21st Jun 2003, 03:08
Basil, of course it was OK. You know the water at Istre was contaminated and not fit to drink!!:-)

bugg smasher
22nd Jun 2003, 04:32
I’m with saudipc-9 on this one, the best way to sanity is MORE RULES DAMMIT!!

Since pilots have been shown by the media to be so completely out of control, what about the rest of the human race? Let’s give every surgeon a breathalyzer before he picks up a knife, every cop before he handles a gun, and every conductor before he picks up his baton (never know what could happen up there on stage).

In fact, I really think bar patrons should be given a breathalyzer before their first drink, in that way the barman will know exactly how much booze not to sell them.

homesick rae
22nd Jun 2003, 21:46
What about crew on duty travel?

I witnessed one of my ex colleagues be denied boarding because he stank of booze. He had already been warned by the Chief Purser. No flight deck. He refused to take his stripes off...so was still "in Uniform"

The whole situation was handled profesionally by the groundstaff and eventually Special Branch were involved.

The person's ID was removed and given to the Purser. Then my colleague was "immediately suspended" and had to make his won way back to base.

My ex colleague WAS also a Purser. We had all returned from a flight and had a couple of drinks...the rest of the crew had gone to bed, got up and had breakfast, except him...he sat all night thinking that drinking coffee would remove the smell and effects of the large Cognacs he was also drinking!

I have had BA crew in uniform on flights to DXB and they behaved responsibly and enjoyed a glass of wine...no problems...

The Captain would always inform us that they were laying over in DXB and flying out in a day or two...they had their meal and a beverage or two then sat back and chilled...

Anyone, flight deck or cabin crew who abuses the regs should be kicked out...there are plenty more responsible people out there ready to step in!

I apologise that this veers of course from the original thread but is still, I feel, in the same vein...so to speak.