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Aviation Groups Object To FAA Proposal For Drug Testing From Medical Exams

Urge The Agency To 'Immediately Shelve' The Proposal

Nine aviation organizations have written a letter to Ali Bahrami, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, calling for the agency to shelve its plan to test random urine samples collected during pilot medical exams.

"On February 27, 2018, staff from the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) presented an overview of the proposed study and detailed its purpose, regulatory authority, protocol, and research team members to AOPA. At the conclusion of that meeting, CAMI doctors indicated that their next steps were to collect additional input from other industry stakeholders in the following months. No others received such a detailed briefing," the letter states.

"Additionally, there was a request to have a final meeting with the FAA and all industry stakeholders, but was rejected, simply noting that “Dr. Berry has given me the ‘go’ for the project.”

"It is our collective recommendation that the study not proceed due to the following significant concerns and reasons."

The group, which includes the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Allied Pilots Association (APA), Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), and Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), says the study is "flawed and will not accomplish its goals."

"It is our recommendation that the study be immediately shelved and the FAA and the NTSB work with industry stakeholders on mitigations focused on prevention through outreach, communication, and education," the letter states.

"Furthermore, we will also call on the NTSB to rescind its impractical safety recommendation A-14-95, which this study is attempting to respond to and could result in misguided and ineffective mitigations. Our organizations’ members comprise the vast majority of pilots certificated by the FAA who regularly undergo medical examinations. They are the subjects whose urine will be taken and analyzed without their knowledge or informed consent, and whose FAA medical examinations will be directly impacted by this proposed study.

"Collectively, we strongly contend that the study: (1) is fundamentally flawed and will not accomplish its stated goals; (2) does not comply with applicable legal requirements; (3) represents a waste of valuable time, money, and limited resources; and (4) will further erode trust between the pilot community and the Office of Aerospace Medicine."

FMI: Letter

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