Drug Testing for Pilot, Decision and Flight Plan

Posted by Admin on

At the present time, all ATC personnel, airline cockpit crews, flight attendants, dispatchers, maintenance employees, security personnel, air-taxi pilots, crop dusters, banner towers, bird chasers, hot air balloonists who give rides to sightseers, and just about everyone else who makes a living in aviation is subject to drug testing. If you are going to fly for hire, you will be tested for drugs.

The aviation industry, as well as the nation, is deeply divided over the drug testing issue. Most pilots don’t have a problem with testing any pilot after an accident or incident as an addition to the fact-finding process. The problem many pilots have is that they object to unilaterally giving up their rights as Americans, protected, up until now, by our Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

Under pressure from Congress, the FAA rushed into the drug testing business without a plan. What ensued was a folly of the fifth magnitude. All pilots were summarily issued a summons to drug testing without evidence of any real problem existing in the first place. For instance, as of this writing, there has been one airline accident attributable to drugs since the dawn of aviation. One! And there has never been an accident during an instructional flight attributable to drugs. Sort of like killing a rabbit with a nuclear missile, isn’t it?

While no one will argue with the need for a clear-headed, drug-free pilot, surgeon, dentist, congressman, etc., the real problem comes when a false positive test can ruin your career. Unfortunately, until more intelligent thinking comes to the fore, if you are going to fly for hire, you will be subject to drug testing.

The decision and flight plan
The decision and flight plan are the culmination of the preflight process. After taking into consideration the readiness of yourself, the aircraft, the weather, and any other pertinent data, you have to make the decision, “Do I go or not?” Remember, it’s your decision. The pilot-in-command has the responsibility for the safe conduct of each and every flight. Don’t let anything (ego, itinerary, boss, flight instructor, etc.) force you into a flight situation you feel is unsafe.

If your decision is to go, then you should file a flight plan. Many pilots only file a flight plan if they intend to go on a crosscountry. It’s really not a bad idea to file even if you are planning to remain in the local area. A flight plan is mandatory only if you intend to go IFR. You can go just about anywhere you want VFR without having to file a flight plan. However, filing even when flying VFR has its advantages. With a flight plan, someone knows where you are and approximately when you are to return. If you should run into any trouble, someone will be looking for you about 30 minutes after you are scheduled to close your flight plan. This is cheap insurance since the most it can cost is one short phone call. You can even file your flight plan on your computer by using the DUAT mentioned previously.

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