Parties, mulled wine and a little glass of prosecco are common, expected even, during the festive season but for those in the aviation industry, working under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of alcohol and drug testing in the aviation industry and outline how AIRDAT could help your airport to adhere to regulations and ensure a safe and incident-free festive season.

The risks in aviation when under the influence of drugs or alcohol

In January this year, a flight attendant was arrested at a UK airport for flying over the legal limit. Police arrested a 41-year-old woman “on suspicion of performing an aviation function when over the prescribed limit for alcohol, contrary to the Railways and Transport Act 2003″. And a quick online search will reveal that the case is not in isolation.

Overseeing an aircraft is an incredibly demanding job which is why airport staff are subject to rigorous training and regulatory compliance. Safety is paramount and the smallest oversight can have major implications. Aircrafts are incredibly complex pieces of machinery with numerous components and processes that must work together seamlessly to ensure the smooth running of every flight.

We’re sure it goes without saying that clear-thinking is a must for any staff working around or on an aircraft.

Are airside operations staff tested for alcohol and drugs before flight?

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has set out clear guidelines for some airport staff to prevent adverse incidents arising from misusing alcohol or drugs. The guidelines affirm that alcohol affects reaction time, memory and reasoning.

Each airport usually has their own stipulated level of tolerance for alcohol and drug limitations. Usually it is based on EASA for onboard aviation crew which states that:

  • The blood alcohol concentration should not exceed 0.2 grams of alcohol per litre of blood.
  • The breath alcohol concentration should not exceed 90 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath
  • Alcohol should not be consumed within 8 hours of flight preparation
  • Alcohol should not be consumed whilst performing duties related to operating an aircraft, including flight prep. (Source EASA)

How are airside operations staff tested for drug and alcohol consumption?

All airside ops staff are routinely tested, generally as part of the airside driver or airbridge training, for drug and alcohol consumption. The specific testing requirements vary from country to country but in the UK, all pilots and crew members are subject to the following testing:

Pre-employment testing – tested prior to commencement for airside works

Random testing – airside ops staff can be subjected to random tests throughout their employment.

Post-incident testing – in the event of an incident or accident, airside ops staff may be tested for drugs and alcohol to determine if they played a role in the event.

The challenges with alcohol and drug testing in aviation

There’s no question that drug and alcohol testing is vital in aviation but it’s not without its critics. Those opposed to the scheme outline privacy worries, time concerns and the accuracy of testing methods as their drawbacks. Thankfully, the AIRDAT testing method is quick, non-invasive and carries the CE mark.

How AIRDAT can help with drug and alcohol testing this festive season (and beyond)

At AIRDAT, we pride ourselves on supporting and streamlining safety and compliance processes for our aviation partners. One of the many ways we do this is by providing drug and alcohol testing in all its forms for the airports we work with. We can offer:

  • Pre employment drug and alcohol testing
  • Random drug and alcohol testing
  • Airside driving drug and alcohol testing

Our tests measure for an extensive list of medications including; alcohol, THC, Propoxyphene, amphetamine, benzodiazepines (sedatives and sleep aids) and much more besides.

If tests show a non-negative result, then further lab testing is undertaken as standard.

The AIRDAT drug and alcohol testing service

AIRDAT currently offer on-site testing at Luton and Gatwick Airport.

All testing is bookable via AIRDAT Passport System. Senior staff need simply log on to the cloud-based system and book testing via the easy-to-use dashboard. The process is clear and straightforward and all results will be assessed, recorded and stored ready for audit. In short, AIRDAT Passport system has everything you need for auditing and compliance and will protect the entire airport community in the case of an incident.

The final word on drug and alcohol testing this festive season

At this time of year, a little glass of something during a work break is usually perfectly acceptable. However, when hundreds of lives depend on the sharp-thinking and quick reaction times, what is considered acceptable changes. This festive season, remind your airside operations staff to say no to that mulled wine because those rigorous rules and regulations are in place to keep everyone safe.

Contact a member of our team to discuss how we can help you stay on top of D&A testing this festive season.