Washington state resident and commercial pilot Paul Roessler was sentenced to four months home confinement on November 14 in U.S. District Court in Spokane, Wash., for being under the influence of alcohol while flying a Piper Seneca for a Seattle-based cargo operator. He was also sentenced to 240 hours of community service, two years probation, ordered to attend substance-abuse evaluation and counseling and pay a $1,500 fine.
The news that FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Saturday (December 3) raises some interesting questions.
“Direct observation” of aviation employees during drug and alcohol tests applies only to individuals who are returning to duty after a previous positive test, or if there is reasonable suspicion. The tests apply to only Part 121 and 135 operations, although some Part 91 operators follow the regulations, according to Dr. Quay Snyder, president and CEO of Virtual Flight Surgeons, Aurora, Colo.
The FAA determined that the minimum percentage rate for substance abuse testing this year will remain at 25 percent of covered aviation employees for random drug testing and 10 percent for random alcohol testing. Data received in the last two years indicates that the positive rate for drug testing is less than 1 percent and the positive rate for alcohol testing has been less than 0.5 percent.
In response to “a number of accidents” in which the pilots had omitted or lied about substance/alcohol dependency during medical evaluations, the NTSB is recommending three policy changes to the FAA: the agency should require pilots to submit full arrest and court records to medical examiners, including details such as blood alcohol and behavior at the time of the offense; ensure that complete medical records from the Aerospace Medical Certifi
The Flight Safety Foundation Corporate Aviation Committee held a workshop in October about instituting a pilot-friendly drug- and alcohol-abatement program in corporate flight departments. According to Dr.
Concerned by its findings between 1998 and 2003 involving airline pilots, the FAA late last year proposed to amend airman medical standards so that a refusal to submit to a required drug or alcohol test would result in revocation or disqualification of an airman medical certificate. Only about 20 comments were submitted.
The FAA determined that the minimum percentage rate for substance-abuse testing this year will remain at 25 percent of covered aviation employees for random drug testing and 10 percent for random alcohol testing. The rates will remain the same because data indicates that the positive rate for drug tests over the last two years was less than 1 percent and the positive rate for alcohol tests in the past two years was less than 0.5 percent.
The FAA on Tuesday issued a final rule amending Part 121 regulations governing drug and alcohol testing to clarify that “each person who performs a safety-sensitive function for a regulated employer by contract, including by subcontract at any tier, is subject to testing.” These amendments are necessary, the FAA said, because guidance has been conflicting for more than a decade “about which contractors were subject to drug and alcohol testing.
Eight aviation trade groups, including the National Air Transportation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the Regional Airline Association, have asked the FAA to extend the April 10 compliance date of a recent drug and alcohol testing rule.
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