Sponsor Message:
Civil Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Eliminating The Risk Of "drunken" Pilots  
User currently offlineArt From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 3382 posts, RR: 1
Posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3840 times:

As a sensible suggestion (I hope), would it not be an idea to get all airline pilots to blow into a machine before each flight to establish that they were within alcohol limits?

The cost in time and money to remove the risk of pilots attempting to fly when over the limit would be minimal - <2 minutes and a few cents. It would also deter pilots from drinking against airline rules if they knew they would be alcohol tested.

Furthermore if the test were taken BEFORE starting procedures involved in preparing to fly an aircraft, I guess that legally no offence would have been committed, so their licences would not be in jeopardy.

28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBucky707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1028 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3834 times:

"As a sensible suggestion (I hope), would it not be an idea to get all airline pilots to blow into a machine before each flight to establish that they were within alcohol limits?"



Hey, why stop there? I would agree to that if you also test judges before they sit on the bench. Test policemen before they go on duty. Test a doctor before he cuts you open. Test bus drivers and train engineers.

Why pick on pilots? I would be willing to bet you, as a group, the percentage of pilots who ever to go work while under the influence is much, much lower than any other profession.


User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3823 times:

The majority of airline pilots are professionals and would not unnecessarily jeopardize people's safety or take control of a plane if they were drunk or believe they might be intoxicated. The consequences of being caught are too high. If not killed, they will know that their careers will be finished and their reputation severely damaged.

Like every other profession, there is a small minority who bend the rules or take unnecessary risks. If they are this irresponsible, they might even avoid blowing in the machines to avoid being detected, so would it be worth while checking every airline pilot to try and catch someone who is drunk? I am sure that the number of drunk airline pilots is probably the lowest of all professions. And what reading would be the limit? Perhaps a pilot taking a dose of Beechams to avoid a cold developing might even push him over the limit?

[Edited 2005-06-10 13:41:16]


MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineUK777 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 38 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3807 times:

You have to be pretty stupid to drink before you fly!


this website may not be idiot proof, but at least it's dimwit resistant!.... lol :)
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31692 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3801 times:

Quoting Art (Thread starter):
would it not be an idea to get all airline pilots to blow into a machine before each flight to establish that they were within alcohol limits

Out here There is an Alcohol Analayser test prior to First Flight by a Doctor.
In Addition Any Certifying Member Flt ops or Engineering/Mx can be subjected to a Random Medical Examination in case of Doubt.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineArt From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 3382 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3782 times:

Quoting Bucky707 (Reply 1):
Test policemen before they go on duty. Test a doctor before he cuts you open. Test bus drivers and train engineers.

I concede that people in these occupations could bring about the death of others if their judgement was impaired.

Quoting BCAL (Reply 2):
The majority of airline pilots are professionals and would not unnecessarily jeopardize people's safety or take control of a plane if they were drunk or believe they might be intoxicated.

The majority are not the problem.

Aviation pays great attention to safety. A whole system of checks is in place to ensure that airliners are fit to fly before they do so. Why not ensure that airline pilots are fit to fly before they do so?


User currently offlineMd80fanatic From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2660 posts, RR: 9
Reply 6, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3759 times:

As long as the trend is to "disconnect" the pilot from his job...with more and more "advanced" autoflight systems and other whizbangs...there will always be a problem of sobriety in the cockpit.

Remember the old "Star Trek" when Captain Kirk was designated as "Captain Dunsel" by a newfangled "computer" system, the M-5. The M-5 was designed to eliminate the captain and flight crew. I think that deep inside all of our brains there is a little voice telling us that, because of computers, we will all eventually be deemed to be worthless.

Of all the professions on Earth....being a pilot is the one that engenders the most pride and professionalism. Being literally pushed aside by technology has to be more than a little hard to bear.

It is pretty obvious the direction aviation is going.....eventually to a complete automation of the cockpit, and direct flight control from ground-based stations only. God, now I have made myself depressed.  Sad


User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3734 times:

Quoting Md80fanatic (Reply 6):
Of all the professions on Earth....being a pilot is the one that engenders the most pride and professionalism. Being literally pushed aside by technology has to be more than a little hard to bear.

I relish the advance of technology. It has NOT pushed the pilot aside as you say. It has given me much more information that enables me to make better decisions. I strongly disagree with you characterization of the pilot's days being numbered. I know I won't see it in my lifetime.

With respect to the alcohol issue. What makes pilot's so different from everyone else? Depending on the research you read, it is estimated that 5% of the adult population has an alcohol problem. That would translate to 5% of the pilot population. From experience, I'd say it is much lower than that in the pilot population. As someone pointed out, why regulate for the few. As it is now, we're subject to random drug testing, random breath testing, every thing we say in the cockpit is recorded, we're poked and prodded every 6 months and then there are the 6 month base checks. Where does it end? We're the only occupation that has this much scrutiny.

I am for mandatory testing as long as it applies to every other occupation. Who tests the tester?


User currently offlineMd80fanatic From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2660 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3700 times:

No disrespect intended. But I am against drug and alcohol testing period, for all professions. I think there is an underlying problem that leads to alcoholism...and this is what needs addressing IMO. People should be free to do as they choose.

I have heard it all before my friend....that computers are our best friends. They provide so much information enabling us to make better decisions....yes, as long as we thouroughly understand the limitations of the computer and their mostly contrived information based on educated guesses at best. There is no better pilot than a human....who can always surpass the fastest computers in reaction time.

I see the advent of computers in the cockpit as insulating the pilots from the forces they used to key on to make instinctual decisions....now the instinct is to look at the monitor that is displaying the information instead....and then, if time permits, to file through dozens of training cards in the head trying to determine the best course of action (what button to push and when)....this used to be automatic.

When things become "easier" to accomplish, by the use of computers, we are in fact denying our beings from learning about the real issues, like flying, and instead being directed to learn about keeping the computer systems working correctly.

A year ago many people argued with me about automated flights...and the assumed inability for a computer to handle fully dozens of commercial flights automatically....all the way to the gate. And all this being directed entirely from the ground. The technology exists (and is being tested today as we speak) to fully coordinate, fly, land, taxi, the whole works.....with a dozen flights in the air, lined up for approach, and all automatically. I had the link then but now I cannot remember where it is.

A few years back, we had a few city buses driving around without humans in control. This was a test case and apparently succeeded to my knowledge. I heard of no accidents. There have been driverless trams and trains for quite a while now. How long before commercial airliners fall to this? I think it will definately be in your lifetime....I think it will be prior to 2015. Computer science doubles in capability every 4 years, so I am a little concerned....


User currently offlineNkops From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2673 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3679 times:

Quoting Md80fanatic (Reply 8):
No disrespect intended. But I am against drug and alcohol testing period, for all professions

I don't think you are showing any disrespect, everyone on here is entitled to his/her opinion. I disagree however, I do believe in drug/alcohol testing... Especially post-accident!!

Quoting Md80fanatic (Reply 8):
There have been driverless trams and trains for quite a while now. How long before commercial airliners fall to this? I think it will definitely be in your lifetime....

If something fails on a tram or train, it can just stop.... Can't do that with an aircraft in flight... IMHO , there will always be a need for pilots (or a pilot) on board aircrafts!!!



I have no association with Spirit Airlines
User currently offlineMtnmanmakalu From Ireland, joined Nov 2004, 515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3657 times:

I think a few "bad apples" make it look bad for the 99.999% of Pilots' that NEVER drink inside the FAA limits.... As an F/A, I have never, in over 15 years, had a pilot on my A/C with any hint of being intoxicated- by look or smell. And if I ever did, I would be the 1st to report it!

As flight crews, we are all subject to random alcohol and drug tests- I have had 2 in the past 3 months, which is quite a bit considering over 10,000 F/A's !!
Blowing into a machine before "turning the key" is a waste of $ that the Airline's don't have right now- I don't ever see it happening as most Flight Crews are very professional and would never do anything (well, under their control anyway!) to jeopardize their careers...

mtnman



I do, I don't, whatever.......
User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13148 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3657 times:

As I have suggested before in posts in threads about incidents (and the followup) on intoxicated aircraft pilots, in the 'ready room' pilots go to before their flights (get charts, weather info, flight info, etc), perhaps there could be a supervisor who could conduct a quick blow test into a handheld device like that used by police to screen for possible drunk drivers. There are also devices like a video game that can check for a persons motor ability which are far less invasive, only take 1-2 minutes to do, but also can detect possible illegal drugs or legal (cold medicines for example) medicines as well as not getting enough sleep/tired conditions, all of which can affect flight ability.

User currently offlineBucky707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1028 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3637 times:

"There are also devices like a video game that can check for a persons motor ability which are far less invasive, only take 1-2 minutes to do, but also can detect possible illegal drugs or legal (cold medicines for example) medicines as well as not getting enough sleep/tired conditions, all of which can affect flight ability."


wow, if you start testing guys to see if they are too tired, you will ground half the flights in the U.S. The crew rest rules used by the FAA are a joke. I can't tell you how many times I had more than the FAA required minimum, but was not able to get any where near 8 hours sleep. My union has in our contract that we have to have 8 hours actually in the hotel room, which is pretty good but still does not leave you enough time to get 8 hours sleep. Flying fatigued, sadly, is a part of this job.


User currently offlineCaptnchaos From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3572 times:

This may be showing my naivete towards the industry, but this subject raises an honest question or two. What is the probability of an emergency call in the middle of the night? For instance, pilot Joe is out with his wife on a nice dinner and they get a little tanked, but he gets a call saying that some emergency has come up and they need him to fly a certain route early the next morning. Does this ever happen? The blood alcohol level would still be registering probably unacceptable levels when the flight is scheduled to depart. I'd imagine he'd be able to say no without any penalty, but what happens in the real world?

I'm still new, so please be gentle!  Smile


User currently offlineMtnmanmakalu From Ireland, joined Nov 2004, 515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3559 times:

Quoting Captnchaos (Reply 13):
This may be showing my naivete towards the industry, but this subject raises an honest question or two. What is the probability of an emergency call in the middle of the night? For instance, pilot Joe is out with his wife on a nice dinner and they get a little tanked, but he gets a call saying that some emergency has come up and they need him to fly a certain route early the next morning. Does this ever happen? The blood alcohol level would still be registering probably unacceptable levels when the flight is scheduled to depart. I'd imagine he'd be able to say no without any penalty, but what happens in the real world

This can only happen if you are on reserve, where you have to be available for a call at any time from scheduling on certain days that you are "on-call". If you are "on call", you cannot drink alcohol, as you could go anywhere, anytime and available to be on the Aircraft ready to go in 2 hours or so- depending on the Airline...

BTW- Welcome!!!

mtnman  Smile



I do, I don't, whatever.......
User currently offlineDrewwright From United States of America, joined May 2001, 621 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3524 times:

Quoting Captnchaos (Reply 13):
For instance, pilot Joe is out with his wife on a nice dinner and they get a little tanked, but he gets a call saying that some emergency has come up and they need him to fly a certain route early the next morning.

This type of situation can happen. You can't fly within 8 hours of drinking, and you can't blow more than .04. In the hurricanes last year, pilots on a long overnight were surprised when they were going to be evacuated and had to leave much earlier than expected. Unfortunately, they had already been drinking so a different crew had to deadhead to fly their flight. This kind of stuff happens...that's what reserves are for! If scheduling calls, you'll simply have to tell them you have been drinking and would not be legal to fly. End of story.
I personally think it is unfortunate that the culture of flight crews seems to revolve around drinking. I will admit that I do "participate," but after a hard day of work, sometimes that's the easiest way to relax. A drink or two will help me sleep like a baby!
All night binges are ridiculous and irresponsible, especially when you have an early report. The America West pilots could have been more responsible by delaying the flight...they might still have their jobs today.
As far as complete automation of the cockpit, it will never ever happen! The computers we have in cockpits already crash enough as it is.


User currently offlineCaptnChaos From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3512 times:

That makes a lot of sense that there is some sort of reserve or on-call system in place. I agree with Drewwright that it is somewhat unfortunate that some business and high-stress work cultures revolve around alcohol. I've seen it firsthand and what it can do to people who let it go too far. Thanks a lot for the positive responses!

User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13301 posts, RR: 100
Reply 17, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3488 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting Bucky707 (Reply 1):


Hey, why stop there? I would agree to that if you also test judges before they sit on the bench. Test policemen before they go on duty. Test a doctor before he cuts you open. Test bus drivers and train engineers

Alas, no one says about a Doctor, etc. "How do you know if he/she drinks? He/she is a pilot."  duck  I know this isn't a nice thing to say, but its something I hear all the time. I sometimes consult on an airforce base. Alcohol is banned near the flightline *except* the pilots are allowed to keep 3 beer fridges. Yes, multiple fridges. No, they don't drink before flights, but they had a discipline problem if they weren't allowed the traditional post flight beer. Its been part of the culture since before there was an air force.

Quoting Drewwright (Reply 15):
I personally think it is unfortunate that the culture of flight crews seems to revolve around drinking.

Something about the personality of a pilots leads them to drink a bit. Don't get me wrong, I love a glass of wine and if my doctor girlfriend wasn't allowed to relax with her favorite drink, heads would roll. I know quite a few pilots and *every* one I know personally adhears to "bottle to throttle at least 12 hours." We aren't children. Alchohol and machinery requires responsibility. Some people can't handle that responsibility, but lets not black list an industry because of a trivial number of bad apples.

As to an alchohol test... No. I would prefer my pilot to greet me as I enter the aircraft, shake my hand, and give me the confidence that she/he is ready to fly with compitence by their alert greeting. I hate stupid rules/laws. The airlines aren't profitable (in the US, as a whole), lets not add more stupid costs. Common sense has kept this from ever (in my knowledge) from being a fatal problem. Common sense will continue to do so. Come on! Do you think any f/a would fly with a tanked pilot at the yoke/stick?

If you want to save lives from alchohol, start with cars. Cars kill more people in a year than civil aviation has killed in its history.

Quoting Drewwright (Reply 15):
As far as complete automation of the cockpit, it will never ever happen! The computers we have in cockpits already crash enough as it is.

shudder... or what about a computer virus? shudder... I'm a HUGE fan of automation. (HUGE!) But I want a grey haired pilot and a spunky co-pilot. Another problem scenario: a mass power outage (a la NYC) taking out the ground systems. shudder... (I've seen a $100k UPS fail during a power spike, so the level or required redundancy would be expensive.)

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineJetdeltamsy From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2987 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3410 times:

Quoting Art (Thread starter):
As a sensible suggestion (I hope), would it not be an idea to get all airline pilots to blow into a machine before each flight to establish that they were within alcohol limits?

i am a left wing, liberal democrat and even i support this!



Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
User currently offlineMd80fanatic From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2660 posts, RR: 9
Reply 19, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3400 times:

I don't want anyone to think I was preaching, that isn't why I am here. Sorry.

Because I could not handle the minor G's in a 172, a lifetime dream of being a pilot was washed out. I quit.  Sad

I am 43 now, and I have been addicted to planes since I was 4. I could never imagine a reason to be anything other than 100% at all times, if I were in that position. I am the kind of guy who would happily fly for free...day in and day out...but I cannot. Just so you folks know where this idiot (me) is coming from, I mean no offense to those I actually envy.  sorry 


User currently offlineB744F From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3367 times:

I don't think it has anything to do with the computers taking over the auto-mation. Alcohol has always been apart of pilots after hours escape. I was told a story that the Marines use to have a chalk line around each airplane and you couldn't bring a drink within that line!

User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 21, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3360 times:

Quoting Bucky707 (Reply 1):
Hey, why stop there? I would agree to that if you also test judges before they sit on the bench. Test policemen before they go on duty. Test a doctor before he cuts you open. Test bus drivers and train engineers.

Why pick on pilots? I would be willing to bet you, as a group, the percentage of pilots who ever to go work while under the influence is much, much lower than any other profession.

Thank you, Correctamundo!


User currently offlineDCrawley From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 371 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3333 times:

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 7):
As it is now, we're subject to random drug testing, random breath testing, every thing we say in the cockpit is recorded, we're poked and prodded every 6 months and then there are the 6 month base checks. Where does it end? We're the only occupation that has this much scrutiny.

Phil -- I don't think it ever ends.. and that is why, comparatively to any other form of transportation, flying (in) an airliner is so safe. I agree, between recurrent, random UA's or breathalyzers when you step off the plane after a long trip, 1st Class Medicals, etc. I guess it's just what we get paid to do!

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 11):
As I have suggested before in posts in threads about incidents (and the followup) on intoxicated aircraft pilots, in the 'ready room' pilots go to before their flights (get charts, weather info, flight info, etc), perhaps there could be a supervisor who could conduct a quick blow test into a handheld device like that used by police to screen for possible drunk drivers.

Good luck getting ALPA to support that one! Look at the fight against cockpit video recorders. Also, the handheld breathalyzers have a fairly high margin of error: Breath Analyzer Accuracy. Plus, imagine all the stations you would have to place someone at to test. It sounds very unreasonable if you ask me, but hey, that's just my opinion!

Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 17):
If you want to save lives from alchohol, start with cars. Cars kill more people in a year than civil aviation has killed in its history.

Amen! RIP to 4 good friends I know who died in 3 separate accidents last year from drunk driving and best of luck to 3 others who had their backs broken because they were hit from a drunk driver.

Quoting National Statistics For Statics And Analysis:
In 2003, an estimated 17,013 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes—an average of one every 31 minutes. These deaths constitute 40 percent of the 42,643 total traffic fatalities. NHTSA.

Just some thoughts,

-D.K. Crawley



"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive."
User currently offlineAirWest From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3322 times:

It shows the sad state our world is in when the people that you entrust your lives to come to work drunk. They shouldn't have to give the breathalyzer tests to pilots, but if they can't be responsible enough to not get drunk on layovers, then some action may have to be taken.

Zach


User currently offlineAntonovman From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 722 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3269 times:

in russia the pilots have to have a quick "medical" every time they fly

25 Art : With respect to pilots, I find it difficult to think of another profession (setting aside the military) in which failure to discharge one's task adeq
26 Jeff G : Having said that, I have no idea how many accidents have been attributed to pilot error brought on/exacerbated by unacceptable alcohol levels. As far
27 Art : Whoops! Perhaps I should have checked this before starting the topic. If over the course of many years no airline accidents have resulted from pilot
28 Jeff G : Art, no offense taken. If you were the only one saying it, it wouldn't be a problem. The real problem is the media-inflamed pressure to "do something,
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
ULR - The Reinvigoration Of "Point-to-Point"? posted Thu Oct 13 2005 19:23:49 by Mrniji
What's The Point Of "Compass Names"? posted Tue May 10 2005 20:38:30 by NWADC9
AV..a Step Closer Into The Hands Of "the Sheik"? posted Sun Oct 10 2004 22:47:49 by Wimpycol
What Is The Point Of "check-in?" posted Thu Aug 26 2004 21:31:34 by Mats
Can Someone Explain The Degrees Of "freedom?" posted Sat Jul 24 2004 00:47:56 by Ssides
The Quandary Of "cost Cutting" For Airlines posted Mon May 10 2004 22:17:51 by InnocuousFox
The Significance Of "Lloyd" posted Sat May 1 2004 16:43:19 by LHMark
Auditions For The Voice Of "ted" (United) posted Thu Apr 1 2004 17:32:46 by SonicKidatBWI
The Song Of "song" posted Tue Aug 19 2003 01:14:47 by Dlx737200
The Meaning Of "Seatcost's"? posted Mon Jul 28 2003 15:31:20 by XQ737