Alaska airliners on drug/alcohol screenings for pilots

FAA Drug Alcohol Testing

FAA Drug Alcohol Testing

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Alaska airliners on drug/alcohol screenings for pilots

FAA Drug Alcohol Testing: A former Alaska Airlines captain has been charged with piloting a commercial plane while under the influence of alcohol.

David Hans Arnston was arrested Wednesday in connection with two flights he piloted in June 2014, both of which had passengers on board, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After the flights, Arnston was randomly selected for a drug and alcohol test which he failed. He was then immediately removed from duty, the airliner said in a statement Friday.

RELATED: Alaska Airlines says intoxicated pilot was ‘immediately removed from duty’

Arnston is the third pilot to fail an Alaska Airlines drug or alcohol screening in the past 10 years, the company said. Regulations surrounding these screenings are overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, but it’s up to the airlines themselves to conduct the tests.

“It’s not just the case of us policing ourselves, we’re actually very closely audited,” said PenAir Director of Operations Matthew Macri.

PenAir says it randomly tests about 40 percent of its ‘safety sensitive’ employees each year. Safety sensitive is a term defined by the federal government to include anyone with a hand in flight safety, including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and operations agents.

While the FAA oversees the enforcement of the regulations, it was not able to provide Channel 2 with an answer regarding the amount of drug and alcohol screenings an airliner is required to conduct.

Alaska Airlines says each year it randomly selects about 35 percent of its safety sensitive employees for drug/alcohol screenings. Ravn Alaska says it selects about 25 percent.