Our investigation reveals: Pilots flying high and more
JACKSONVILLE (ActionNewsJax.com) -- A pilot removed from a plane last week failed an alcohol test. Our investigators have learned he isn't the only one.
The pilot of that plane, Kolbjorn Kristiansen was taken into custody before the plane ever left the ground. After that close call, our Action News Washington Bureau investigators went to work to find out how long it has been since a pilot has failed an alcohol test.
According to the information we uncovered form the US Department of Transportation, it hasn't been long at all.
In 2011, 12 US Airline pilots failed alcohol tests. 10 more did in 2010. All had more than .04 BAC when tested.
One former Transportation Department insider we spoke with says everyone knows the rules--there's no reason why they should be broken.
"No drinking eight hours before a flight. It's known as the bottle-to-throttle rule," said Mary Schiavo--a former Transportation Department worker. "It's as old as planes themselves. It means you can't drink eight hours before a flight."
And we've learned alcohol isn't the only problem. Drugs are a cause for concern, as well. According to the numbers we pulled, 28 pilots failed drug tests in 2011. 23 failed drug tests in 2010.
We contacted the National Pilots Union for comment, but did not hear back.
We do know the Transportation Department will not be increasing its requirements next year. In 2013, only 10% of pilots must be tested for alcohol, 25% for drugs.
One safety advocate says the recent series of pilots caught is a sign of the current system working.
A spokesman for the Association for Airline Passenger Rights reacted to this story. He told us that even though instances of finding pilots drinking on the job are isolated, they need to be dealt with in a "swift and compelling manner."
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