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FAA Compliance

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the United States Department of Transportation agency that is responsible for safety in civil aviation.  The FAA holds airline and aeronautics employers responsible for meeting safety standards and regulations.  A big part of those safety requirements is the drug and alcohol testing program.

Drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive aviation employees helps protect public safety and keep our skies safe. Testing is required by the Omnibus Transportation Employees Testing Act of 1991 and by DOT and FAA regulations (49 CFR part 40 and 14 CFR part 120).

Employers regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are required to have a drug and alcohol testing program. This includes air carriers and aircraft maintenance and preventive maintenance companies. Federal Aviation Regulations require that a regulated employer ensure any individuals performing safety-sensitive functions are included in an FAA-mandated drug and alcohol testing program.

The Following Types Of Safety-Sensitive Functions Are Covered By The FAA’s Drug And Alcohol Testing Regulations

  • Air Tour Operators

  • Air traffic controllers

  • Air traffic control facilities not operated by the FAA

  • Aircraft dispatcher

  • Aircraft maintenance and preventive maintenance personnel

  • Aviation screeners

  • FAA Repair Stations

  • Flight attendants

  • Flight crewmembers

  • Flight instructors

  • Ground security coordinators

  • Part 119 Certificate Holders

  • Part 145 Certificate Holders

Drug testing for all DOT-regulated employers and employees is described in 49 CFR Part 40. In addition to Part 40, each agency has its own separate rules and regulations.

The rules include procedures for testing, frequency of tests, and substances tested for.

Part 120 establishes programs intended to help prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by drivers of safety-sensitive workers subject to FAA regulation.

All FAA Employers should become familiar with both 49 CFR Part 40 and 14 CFR part 120.

Summary of 14 CFR part 120 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Reportable Employee Drug And Alcohol Violations

Each employer must notify the FAA about any covered employee who holds a certificate issued under 14 CFR Parts 61 (pilots and flight and ground instructors), 63 (flight engineers and navigators), or 65 (air traffic control tower operators, aircraft dispatchers, airframe or power plant mechanics, and repairmen) who has refused to take a drug or alcohol test. The MRO may report a positive or refusal (i.e. adulterated, substituted results or no medical explanation for providing an insufficient specimen) on behalf of the employer.
Each employer must notify the FAA about any safety-sensitive employee who is required to hold an airman medical certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 67 who has a positive drug test result, an alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater, or who has refused to submit to testing. The MRO may report a positive or refusal (i.e. adulterated, substituted results or no medical explanation for providing an insufficient specimen) on behalf of the employer.

Each employer must not permit an employee who is required to hold a medical certificate under part 67 to perform a safety-sensitive function to resume that duty until the employee has received a new medical certificate issued by the FAA Federal Air Surgeon and the employer has ensured that the employee meets the return to duty requirements of Part 40. (Medical certificates are not operating certificates but employees cannot continue to perform airman duties without a medical certificate.)

According to FAA’s regulation 14 CFR part 120, Subpart E, section 120.113(d), when a MRO verifies a drug test result or a SAP performs the initial evaluation, they must ask the employee whether he or she holds or would be required to hold an airman medical certificate issued under 14 CFR part 67 of this chapter to perform a safety-sensitive function for the employer. [This requirement only applies to MROs and SAPs who provide services for FAA regulated employers.] If the employee answers in the affirmative, the employee must obtain an airman medical certificate issued by the Federal Air Surgeon dated after the drug and/or alcohol violation date.

The SAP must wait until the employee obtains their airman medical certificate before reporting to an employer that the employee demonstrated successful compliance with the SAP’s treatment and/or education recommendations.

Common Reasons Audits are Failed

  • No alcohol and/or drug testing program
  • No random alcohol and/or drug testing program

  • Using an employee who refused a required alcohol or drug test

  • Using an employee who failed to complete required follow-up procedures after refusing or testing positive for drugs or alcohol

Reasons for Testing

Drug and alcohol testing also includes random testing and reasonable suspicion testing

The specific FAA requirements may vary according to the safety-sensitive nature of an employee’s position.

An employee is considered to be performing a safety-sensitive function when he or she is actually performing, ready to perform, or immediately available to perform such functions.  (14 CFR §120.7(k)).  These are referred to as “covered employees.”

(2) An employee who has engaged in prohibited drug use during the performance of a safety-sensitive function … is permanently precluded from performing that safety-sensitive function for an employer. 14 CFR §120.111(e)(2)

That means ANY employer.

A covered employee who receives one (1) verified positive drug test result on a FAA required test must be immediately removed from safety-sensitive duties. The employee cannot return to the performance of safety-sensitive duties until the s/he has been evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional and successfully completed the return-to-duty process outlined in 49 CFR Part 40, Subpart O 

(e) Permanent disqualification from service. (1) An employee who has verified positive drug test results on two drug tests required by this subpart of this chapter, and conducted after September 19, 1994, is permanently precluded from performing for an employer the safety-sensitive duties the employee performed prior to the second drug test. 14 CFR §120.111(e)(1)

A covered employee who refuses to submit to a required drug or alcohol test or who receives a verified adulterated or substituted drug test result must be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions.  The employee cannot return to the performance of safety-sensitive duties until the s/he has been evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional and successfully completed the return-to-duty process outlined in 49 CFR Part 40, Subpart O 

(d) Refusal to submit to testing. Each employer must notify the FAA within 2 working days of any employee who holds a certificate issued under part 61, part 63, or part 65 of this chapter who has refused to submit to a drug test required under this subpart. Notification must be sent to: Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Aerospace Medicine, Drug Abatement Division (AAM-800), 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by fax to (202) 267-5200. 14 CFR §120.111(d)

An FAA regulated company must notify the FAA of any employee who holds an airman medical certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 67 and violates the provisions of the FAA/DOT regulations, as described above. (14 CFR §120.113(d)(1)).  In addition, any employee who holds a certificate under 14 CFR Part 61, Part 63, or Part 65 airman certificate and who has refused to submit to a FAA required drug test must be reported to the FAA.

(AAM-800) is responsible for the development, implementation, administration, and compliance monitoring of the aviation industry drug and alcohol testing programs as set forth in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, 49 CFR part 40 and 14 CFR part 120. The regulations require all part 119 certificate holders authorized to operate under parts 121 and 135, air tour operators (as defined in § 91.147) and air traffic control facilities not operated by FAA or under contract to the U.S. Military to implement drug and alcohol testing programs that cover safety-sensitive employees

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The FAA is one of six agencies that fall under the U.S. Department of Transportation.

*USCG is regulated by the Dept of Defense, but its drug testing requirements are governed by the same rules that the other agencies live by