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Alcohol Testing of Flight Crew

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Alcohol Testing of Flight Crew

Old 8th Mar 2011, 21:33
  #61 (permalink)  
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Mean - like in the front of an Airbus?
Somewhat, yes. This would not be a coincidence. The recliner would be a deliberate amplification of the boredom that might arise in a cockpit. It's possible to override moderate fatigue briefly in a dire emergency (which incidentally is not true of impairment due to most drugs), but the safety issue is impairment during a normal flight, not impairment while spiraling into a mountainside leaving a trail of flame. Because highly automated flight can be boring and sleep-encouraging, the bar for rest and alertness must be set high.
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Old 8th Mar 2011, 23:37
  #62 (permalink)  
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Under the stress of possibly losing his employment; I don't think so.
Not really. If the tests are reported to the respective CAA and a large quantity of X Airlines pilots are deemed unfit due to fatigue, it could be an evidence to a poor rostering practise on behalf of the airline; they can't kick +50% of their pilots. I think AnthonyGA makes a very good point, hit the airline where it hurts: the pockets. There has to be a way to prove impairment and unfitness due to fatigue.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 01:49
  #63 (permalink)  
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Testing for fatigue

Perhaps someone could weigh in on this adjunct to the dissucsion of alcohol testing--namely that of testing for fatigue.

I flew with a gent once who could speak at length about a simple procedure measuing the dialation speed of the pupils as a marker of fatigue/impairment. I know if the United States a police officer will often shine a penlight at a suspects eyes to get a rough guess as to what he/she is dealing with. (I did say rough guess so I know it does not hold up for anything)

Apparently rather sophisitcated, but portable, devices are under consideration (or are in test) that can do this quite rapidly. From what he maintained, it gives a very decent idea as just how faitgued one is.

Now I realize that there are legions of complexities that are probably involved in testing pilots on this, but it does raise an interesting question regarding a fitness to fly scenario. I know it it not as onerous as how the Europeans and UK carriers can schedule, but one can fly 15 days straight from the US on 5 three day trips--thus 10 ocean crossings in those 15 days with no day off between trips. I have seen others assigned these types of schedules and fatigue was a factor that forced them to stand down. Again, a light schedule by what the Europeans do, but I use it as an example of a pattern that could induce enough fatigue to serve as a good test for such an experiment.

Anyone with medical experience that can comment on this? Is it viable? If so I can imagine that air carriers around the world would spend millions to fight it ever being implemented. How else could they run their schedules?
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 16:45
  #64 (permalink)  
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Uncle Fred,
validated tests for quantifying fatigue, though possible, are difficult to undertake, especially in view of multiple confounders. It is easy that the regulators and airlines redefine FDTL (EASA already has a draft notification in place) and the stakeholders, the pilots unions, are chosen to be equal partners.

At the individual level, each pilot has to be accountable but for him-/herself, including following hygiene factors like abstaining/acceptable consumption of alcohol, adequate rest/sleep and willingness to owe it up, when not ship shape.

Or else, we may have crash due to probable sleep inertia, or deplorable acts by airline managements, without worrying about the outcome or aviation safety.
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 17:01
  #65 (permalink)  
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Ok a compromise:
Test all crew, before every flight, for alcohol and drug use.
At the same time test them for fatique, being tired, and a host of other human factors.
I'd heartily agree with that
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Old 15th Mar 2011, 18:35
  #66 (permalink)  
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Alcohol Testing

Can anyone please point me to any ECA or IFALPA position papers on Alcohol Testing. Thanks
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Old 17th Mar 2011, 17:51
  #67 (permalink)  
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Slightly off subject, but in terms of territory, I think I am right in recalling a situation in which Police officers did not board an El Al Flight in Heathrow due to confusion over territory etc to arrest a High Ranking Israeli officer....

I suppose it also had something to do with the El Al security guys on board as well....

Think it took so long, that in the end the plane indeed did return to its homeland. Believe in that case the Police actually did have the right to board that plane.
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Old 17th Mar 2011, 21:42
  #68 (permalink)  
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EZ: When reaching taxiing speed during landing run the aircraft becomes the territory of the country it landed in (before: When leaving the runway...)
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Old 18th Mar 2011, 03:53
  #69 (permalink)  
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Pilot accused of flying drunk on US flight

As reported here on Friday 18 March: Gold Coast Breaking News :: News | goldcoast.com.au | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

A UNITED Express pilot has been accused of flying drunk on a 2009 flight from Texas to Denver.

XYZ, of N, Virginia, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver in relation to the flight from Austin on December 8, 2009, The Denver Post said.
The US Attorney's office in Denver said the 32-year-old was the first officer, or co-pilot, on United Express Flight 7687, operated by Shuttle America.
The airline reportedly received a tip that Mr Cope was flying while intoxicated.
The indictment says he "unlawfully operated and directed the operation of a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol".
If convicted, Mr Z faces up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
"The message this case sends is simple: Pilots who drink and fly will be prosecuted and face incarceration," US Attorney John Walsh said.
Shuttle America is a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings, which also owns Frontier Airlines.
Read more at The Denver Post.
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Old 18th Mar 2011, 19:29
  #70 (permalink)  
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Big deal. No deaths ever caused by this issue. What is the fascination with the subject when so many bigger issues occupy us professionals? True pilots know all about it.
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Old 21st Mar 2011, 07:54
  #71 (permalink)  
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Small quantities of Alcohol

Research undertaken within Europe has indicated that pilots have shown impairment in their ability to fly an ILS approach or to fly IFR, and even to perform routine VFR flight tasks while under the influence of alcohol, regardless of individual flying experience. The number of serious errors committed by pilots dramatically increases at or above concentrations of 0.04% blood alcohol. Some studies have shown decrements in pilot performance with blood alcohol concentrations as low as 0.025%.

I worked in the electronics industry a while ago. Included was the development of screening breathalisers - the sort cops use on the side of the road.

As part of the research we discovered that alcohol is a banned drug in some sports - for instance rifle shooting and archery. It's not because it's dangerous, it's because in small quantities it improves fine muscle control and reduces tremors.

The research I saw also showed that the probability of a car accident decreased with small amounts of alcohol. That is with say a can of beer in you, you are a safer driver than a teetotal.

Driving safety improves up to .025 and then declines to 0.05 where it is the same as 0.00. After 0.05 safety drops rapidly, and 0.08 is getting pretty unsafe.

The only other downside of small quantities of alcohol is it's a depressant, so you are more likely to nod off later.
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Old 28th Mar 2011, 09:43
  #72 (permalink)  
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Since starting this thread, I also tried different route to obtain some info. Bellow is info received from Swedish ALPA which was confirmed in telephone call with Swedish CAA.

"Alcohol testing of air crew on duty (pilots and cabin crew) can be made in Swedish Airports on a random basis. It will be performed by police officers, in uniform or plain clothes as a “Breathalyzer check”.
It will in this case be performed prior to or after flight, either on board or in direct connection with crew boarding/disembarking the aircraft. It shall never be performed in front of passengers.
No reports / paperwork required if the test is negative. If, however, the test is positive the pilot or cabin attendant will be escorted to perform a so called “evidence test” with higher accuracy, either via a blood sample or breathalyzer. The limit is 0,02% alcohol in blood."
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 18:53
  #73 (permalink)  
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Having heard and read more and more about these "walk in and blow" tests, I have decided for myself that I will refuse it should it happen to me.

I am sick and tired of being criminalized and put under a general suspicion without anything indicating any fault on my side.

I am being security screened every damn time I enter my workplace so I don't hijack myself with my swiss army knife, and now I am being placed under the general assumption to be drunk at work, and they make ME prove MY OWN INNOCENCE!
In any civilized country the proof of burden is on the governments side, not on the subject's. This is going way too far, and as I have said, I will refuse the test if the police cannot give me any reason on why they would suspect me of being drunk. If I stumpled around doing the outsidecheck, fine, if they claim to smell booze on my breath, fine, but no way in hell am I going to give in for no reason at all.
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Old 4th Apr 2011, 09:21
  #74 (permalink)  
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Well said, Sir !

Nil Illegitimum Carborundum. ( or similar )
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Old 4th Apr 2011, 10:01
  #75 (permalink)  
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Well said Admiral

Lets put a stop to this before it gets out of hand!
I was twice sniffed for explosives, in uniform, in front of my passengers???
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Old 4th Apr 2011, 14:44
  #76 (permalink)  
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Well, it might take getting stuck at some airport policestation in a foreign country, and it will take major delays up to cancellation of the flight. And I am sure my chiefpilot might want to have a word with me.
But if that's what it takes to get it out, so be it.

As I have said, I will not agree to a test without a proper reason being brought forward.
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Old 4th Apr 2011, 23:30
  #77 (permalink)  
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As I have said, I will not agree to a test without a proper reason being brought forward.
Good luck. You cannot win against the government. Additional charges may be brought upon you such as refusing arrest, force against a police officer etc

Just get on with it and spend the 5 seconds it takes
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Old 5th Apr 2011, 02:47
  #78 (permalink)  
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Additional charges may be brought..............
Undoubtedly, but if everyone did it, eventually World Travel would stop, and eventually "someone" would notice.

I'm not an alcoholic and I'm not a Fanatical Terrorist - get used to it.
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Old 6th Apr 2011, 22:20
  #79 (permalink)  
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Just get on with it and spend the 5 seconds it takes
Sadly it's thinking like that which has enabled the idiots to run the asylum, and is further proof that aircrew generally but pilots specifically are unable to organise themselves and fight this nonsense. I was about to say that we couldn't even organise a decent orgy in a brothel, until I recalled another era in Singapore
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 10:39
  #80 (permalink)  
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When flight crew gets tested for alcohol consumption, that is sort of understandable.
Usually done at the gate, or somewhere in some office at the airport, right?
Well, listen to this....
A few years back a KLM B737 was taxiing out to its departure runway at AMS. It was stopped, ON THE TAXI TRACK, by the police, who entered the a/c and breathalized the flight crew.
Result: clear, no alcohol detected, continue your flight.
The crew was so fed up with the whole thing that they taxied it straight to the first available gate and reported not fit to fly.
Just to give everyone a warning where this all could lead to.

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