Drug Tests Could Strand Aussie Pax

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An aggressive program to weed out drug and alcohol use in the Australian aviation industry could have some unintended consequences for passengers flying to the remote locations served only by air. The Australian government is imposing a zero tolerance stance and, for the first time, is conducting random testing in the country's far-flung regions. If anyone involved in the operation of an aircraft, from baggage handler to pilot, is found to have more than .02 percent alcohol in their system, they will be required to stand down and that could leave passengers stranded.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority says the enforcement will begin in November and can happen anywhere and anytime. "If a test is positive, a pilot of other aviation worker must immediately stand down from their duties," said CASA spokesman Peter Gibson. "Of course, if a pilot was flying in a remote area and failed a test, that would mean that the aircraft and passengers would be stranded." More than 120,000 industry workers will be subject to testing.