NTSB to study drug trends in aviation accidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board will consider a study on drug use trends in aviation Sept. 9. It will examine trends in over-the-counter, prescription and illicit drug use documented from toxicology reports of pilots that died in aircraft crashes for the 22 years between 1990 and 2012.

The meeting on the drug trends will follow a meeting to determine the probable cause of a UPS Airlines accident that killed both the pilot and co-pilot in August 2013 as the flight was making an approach into the international airport at Birmingham, Alabama.


  1. SR says

    This can have an affect on the 3rd class proposal particularly if it affects the list of approved medications. If they eliminate the the 3rd class medical, how will they “prevent” people from flying on “no go” medications. Again, unless you show, by the facts, that a particular medication had any impact, and I mean a true factor in the cause, th ed n you can not definitively draw conclusions that a study of this kind is trying to do. All you can say is that certain medications are being taken by X number of people (pilots in this case). That information is probably already available from the medical community or drug sales results. The other thing that muddies the water in this type of study, which needs specific facts to draw conclusions not just a list of most taken meds, is that different people react differently to the same meds, and due to legal concerns, almost all meds contain an inordinantly long list of possible side effects. Many of these side effects have a very, very low probability or so extreme that the com across as worse than what they are being taken to resolve

  2. Anonymous says

    This does not seem to be related to proposal to abolish 3rd class medical. At least I do not see how this investigation and 3rd class medical could be related. This investigation could have effect on the list of FAA approved medications though. I would like to see the results.

  3. Sarah A says

    The head of the NTSB made a comment along these lines when being asked his position on the abolishment of the 3rd class medical. This might be their portion of a Circle The Wagons campaign to be sure that GA stays saddled with this requirement in spite of proof that it does nothing to augment safety. As already commented, what good will the results of this study do ? If pilots were taking these drugs, what in the world could the government do to eliminate the “problem” ? Better pilot education is the only possible way to reduce the problem (if there even is one) and that was what AOPA/EAA proposed as part of their exemption request.

  4. SR says

    Really! Have they done a similar study on auto crash deaths? If they did, what did they do about it, what added laws were passed (do not remember them checking for drug use on drvers license renewal). And even if new laws were passed, did it change anything? What do they hope to accomplish in the long term? This could impact the actual reform, or at least sway someone, in the 3rd class medical reform issue. Those with 2nd and 1st class medicals could be impacted, too, because of narrow minded thinking and a desire to protect us from ourselves. Besides, just having something in your system does not prove it is causal to the accident

    • Tom says

      Nice write up. It’s all about government control – really it is. BTW, don’t drink too many sugary sodas today – you could get sleep apnea…………..

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