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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Private Pilots Using Legal and Illegal Drugs

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a study which showed that more pilots are using illegal drugs and prescription medications that may cause impairment, reports The New York Times.

The NTSB study was interested in pilots who died in crashes. It is worth noting that most of them were private pilots. In 2012, pilots who died in crashes tested positive for drugs four times as often as those who died in 1990, according to the article.

Researchers looked at two time periods, 1990 to 1997 and 2008 to 2012. In the first period 5.6 percent of pilots who died had antihistamines in their system, a drug which has sedating properties. In the latter time period, antihistamines were present in 9.9 percent of the cases, and the ingredients in Vicodin and Valium were found more commonly in the pilot’s systems than earlier cases. 

In 2012, pilots killed in crashes tested positive for one drug 39 percent of the time, compared to 9.6 percent in 1990, the article points out. 

“I think that the key take-away from this study for every pilot is to think twice about the medications you’re taking and how they might affect your flying,” NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart said in a news release.

Drug use among pilots was relatively uncommon in the 1990’s, about 2.4 percent. In 2012, that number had risen to about 4 percent, mostly due to an increase in marijuana use amongst pilots. It is difficult to determine whether or not a pilot was actually impaired at the time of the crash or just had the drugs in their system, according to the NTSB.

“However, the study did say that increasing numbers of accident pilots chose to fly after taking potentially impairing drugs, suggesting that some pilots are either unaware of the risks that such drugs present or consider such risks acceptable,” the board concluded.

You can find the study here.

1 comment:

  1. I Interned at Whiteside in 2009 which gave me a great head start in this field. I got hired on in 2013 and the Staff at Orange st are just awesome and I want to thank you all for your kindness and for the all that you do. Also I cant forget Anna. Anna was a joy to work with and does an amazing job with the Clients! Thank you and for being a part of my Journey working in this field of Substance Abuse.

    Warm Regards,
    Christy Lennox CADC II, ICADC, SAP

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