Air Transport World

Regulatory overdose. (Federal Aviation Administration's drug-testing program of airline-industry personnel) (column)

Aviation regulatory authorities worldwide have the troublesome and sometimes unpopular task of managing the evolving commercial-airline industry. For the most part, the task is accomplished successfully but sometimes, the regulators miss their mark-and badly.

FAA's random drug-testing program of airline-industry personnel in safety or security positions is a case in point. Not long ago, FAA quietly released statistics gathered during the first six months of the program. The figures prove beyond any doubt that drug use in U.S. commercial aviation is very rare and nowhere near the "shocking level" that Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner once described to Congress.

The statistics show a very low level of drug use among those employees tested. An analysis of 120,642 drug tests conducted over a 6-month period showed positive findings in 561 cases, a low .47% positive rate. …

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