An intoxicated pilot is not someone you want flying your aircraft, period.
You’d be surprised to know that even the most reputable airlines with the most stringent of rules and regulations also deal with alcohol use among staff.
As reported by ABC Network Australia, a Singapore Airlines flight was barred from leaving Melbourne airport.
It was due to their pilot failing the random alcohol breath test.
A drunk pilot is a terrifying prospect for a passenger. Much more alarming for a company who has the pilot on staff.
The flight headed to Wellington was canceled, angering many passengers who were subsequently stranded in the airport.
Disgruntled passengers slammed Singapore Airlines for the near-miss incident of boarding a flight flown by a drunk pilot. The airline’s failure to identify and deal with the problem early on also came into focus.
The incident is a blight on the otherwise stellar reputation of Singapore Airlines. The airline consistently ranks as one of the safest airlines in the world.
No Compulsory Alcohol Testing For Pilots In Australia
In Australia, testing pilots for blood alcohol limits is not compulsory before each flight, unless specified in the pilot’s contract.
However, the way things are now is better than how it was 10 years ago. Random breath testing only came into practice in 2008.
Henceforth, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority performs thousands of tests annually, where less than 0.001 percent test positive for being above acceptable alcohol limits.
According to Marcus Diamond, the safety and technical manager for the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, it’s not feasible and impossible to test a pilot at every sign-on.
Some airlines in other countries, however, have taken it upon themselves to ensure their crew is alcohol and drug-free even before signing on.
For Airlines In Other Countries, Alcohol Testing For Pilots Is Compulsory
In countries like China, compulsory testing is a requirement for some airlines. For some airlines, the crew needs to undergo a complete medical check before signing on.
The check includes an interview process to test for fatigue, general well-being, and the presence of alcohol and drugs in the system.
The fact that some airlines can make checks mandatory means it is doable.
This practice eases airline passengers’ worries and goes a long way toward building client loyalty.
Pilots Not Immune To Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Pilots are just as vulnerable to the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse as professionals in any other industry.
For this reason, the Australian Federation of Pilots has united with other international organisations such as HIMS. The partnership aims to help members of the aviation community deal with substance abuse problems.
The organisation aims to identify any member of the aviation community with a substance abuse problem, take them offline and put them through a sobriety process and help support them back into the role.
Judging by the incident with Singapore Airlines, it’s safe to conclude that no profession is completely safe from substance abuse. Alcohol testing for pilots is just as relevant as testing truck drivers, construction and office workers.
With a pilot of one of the most reputable commercial passenger airlines going to work intoxicated, you can imagine the statistics in a regular office environment. This is certainly what we have found.
Creating a Drug-Safe Programme That Protects Your Business and Employees
Making your staff undergo a mandatory drug and alcohol test provides a greater peace of mind to everyone involved.
If you need help with creating a Drug and Alcohol Safe Workplace policy which includes a drug and alcohol testing programme, contact us now.
Safework Laboratories can help you secure and safeguard your company and workforce from the impact of drug and alcohol-related incidents.
Our comprehensive drug testing services and our up-to-date network of labs are leading the drug safety industry in Australia today.
This is our commitment — to help our clients maintain a safer, healthier and more productive workforce.