Can Your Aviation Employees Endanger Others with their Alcohol Abuse?

Substance abuse must be monitored and kept in check in the work environment, particularly in high-hazard industries, such as aviation. Not only does aviation involve the use of sensitive, heavy machinery, but the safety and lives of general and commercial passengers depend upon the prudent behavior of aviation pilots and personnel. As opposed to a job where conditions remain fairly stable, aviation is affected by variable weather conditions, and faulty equipment is not easily repaired or maintained during flight. Responsible behavior in the flight crew & ground staff is crucial concerning everyone’s safety. Substance abuse can affect the reflexes, the judgment and even the cognitive understanding of aviation employees.

In a report on alcohol-related aviation crashes, eighty-one percent of the studied fatal flight crashes were linked to medical examiner reports. [1] Of those reported, eleven percent of the crashes involved a pilot with a blood alcohol concentration greater than or equal to 20 mg/dL. A significant number of these flight crashes occurred at night. The study describes alcohol as being a significant factor in poor judgment, decision making and flight manipulation. The personal assumption that one can, indeed, control the aircraft and successfully fly under the influence of alcohol may seem unwise. Unfortunately, these unwise assumptions are usually made by individuals who have already had a few drinks.

In a report by Jack Modell, M.D. and James Mountz, M.D., Ph.D., alcohol is described as impairing judgment, affecting newly learned skills, impairing fine tuned and complex tasks and resulting in the loss of gross motor orientation and control. [2]

In aviation, even an individual with relatively low levels of alcohol is still unable to fully grasp the consequences and potential outcome of actions and decisions. In addition to this, the individual’s oculovestibular function is impaired to the point of decreasing perception of the airplane’s tracking ability and visual fixation. This decreased function affects pilots particularly in low light situations, such as the low ambient lighting in night flights.

Aviation, both general and commercial, requires fine and complex motor skills, detailed and clear judgment, and cognitive reasoning. Your pilots must keep themselves, other passengers and company products safe. Good judgment can also cut down on cost to your business, since potential aircraft problems are noticed before they become an expensive lesson. Drug and alcohol testing can prevent accidents and problems during flight and can, of course, save you money in the long run. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Accident Analysis & Prevention : Characteristics of alcohol-related fatal general aviation crashes.” ScienceDirect. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.

2. Modell, Jack , and James Mountz. “Drinking and Flying – The Problem of Alcohol Use by Pilots.” The New England Journal of Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.

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