How Often Do Pilots Fly Drunk?

How Often Do Pilots Fly Drunk?

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– April 02, 2017


The 2012 film starring Denzel Washington, Flight, blew the lid on a long pondered controversy: pilots flying drunk. People make a lot of jokes about pilots sitting at the bars or knocking a few back in the pilot lounges before a long flight, especially during moments of turbulence. During those dangerous flying moments, the last thing anybody wants is an intoxicated pilot.

Being an airline pilot is stressful. Long flight hours, high pressure during turbulence, and many days away from home can be stressful. Many don’t realize that a large population of those in residential treatment belong to the airline industry. Pilots have FAA approved treatment programs they are sent to as well do flight attendants. Alcoholism, drug addiction, trauma, and many other mental health disorders are common in airline professionals. CBS News recently asked: Drunk Piloting: How Common Is It?

According to the article, pilots flying drunk is not so common. “U.S. rules prohibit pilots from flying if they have a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or higher…By comparison, the legal threshold to drive a car in the U.S. is twice that level at 0.08 percent.” Additionally, there is a saying in the FAA, “Eight hours from bottle to throttle.” The article cites that “Last year, random alcohol tests were given to 12,480 U.S. pilots. Only 10 failed.” Random tests are only given out when a pilot is suspected of being drunk or having a drinking problem.

How is it then that there are so many treatment centers, like Get Real Recovery, which are FAA approved to treat pilots? Pilots are still normal people who are prone to developing behaviors they regret which can get out of control. For such pilots, the FAA has a specific process “that allows recovering alcoholics back in the cockpit if they pass a medical evaluation and stay clean during monitoring for the next five years.” More than 100 pilots a year go through rehab after being discharged and eventually regain their licenses.

Alcoholism, Addiction, And Airplanes

Many airline employees who are in recovery have reported that they heyday of the airline industry came with a lot of partying. Stimulant drugs are commonly abused to keep airline workers awake, attentive, and full of the perky energy they use to serve passengers. Alcohol can help them cope with stress, exhaustion, and any problems at home. Many do recover after treatment, learning that substance abuse isn’t a healthy way of life.

Get Real Recovery offers a certified FAA program of treatment for airline professionals in need of treatment. If you are in need of residential care for addiction and alcoholism, call us today at 866-983-3651.

Shruti C
Shruti C, on in Addiction, Alcholism

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