More pilots are testing positive for drugs, US study

By September 15, 2014 Recent News

The Australian 10 September 2014
Tests of pilots killed in plane crashes over more than two decades show an increasing use of both legal and illegal drugs, including some that could impair flying, according to a study.

The study, released on Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board examined toxicology reports for almost 6,700 pilots killed in crashes from 1990 to 2012. Not only did the share of pilots testing positive for a drug increase over that period, but the share of pilots who tested positive for multiple drugs increased as well.

Pilots testing positive for at least one drug increased from 9.6 per cent to 39 per cent, while positive tests for two drugs rose from 2 per cent to 20 per cent and three drugs from zero to 8.3 per cent.

Over the same period, new drugs were coming into use and the population was ageing, creating greater demand for drugs. The toxicology tests “reflect trends in the general population and likely indicate a significant increase in drug use” by pilots as well, the study said…

The share of pilots testing positive for illegal drugs was small, but increased from 2.3 per cent to 3.8 per cent. The study attributed the increase mostly to greater marijuana use in the last 10 years.