Aussies Consider Alcohol, Drug Testing
Australian pilots may face random drug and alcohol testing after an investigation determined that drugs and alcohol might have contributed to a crash that killed a charter pilot and his five tourist passengers in 2002. Cause of the crash was an engine malfunction on takeoff, followed by a low-level stall in a turn by the Cherokee Six on Hamilton Island. The probe by the Australia Transport Safety Bureau said pilot Andrew Morris, 27, of Brisbane, had consumed alcohol and a painkiller called Panadeine the night before the crash and had only seven hours of sleep. He also had the active ingredient in marijuana in his system. That was enough for the bureau to recommend testing, noting that road, rail and marine workers are subject to alcohol testing. Australia's AOPA said testing is unnecessary. President Ron Lawford said most pilots don't use drugs or alcohol prior to flight. Last year, Qantas staff at Sydney walked off the job when the company initiated drug-testing trials, saying it was a violation of privacy. Still, Transport Minister John Anderson said it's something worth looking into. He commissioned a review of the topic.