Do Pilots Get Drug Tested?

Many hopeful pilots ask do pilots get drug tested if they are accepted into the profession.

Pilots are expected to undergo drug testing by FAA regulations. Pre-employment, post-incident, post-return-to-duty, reasonable-cause, ad hoc and post-return-to-duty checks are all part of this process.

The lives of hundreds of people and millions of dollars worth of equipment and cargo are in the pilot’s hands at all times. The need that they maintain soberness and pass drug testing seems to sense. 

This article addresses the questions of how frequently pilots are subjected to drug testing, if they’re not allowed to decline a test, and whether or not a pilot can be terminated for failing a test.

Everything you read here has been checked for correctness, so you don’t have to wonder if it’s authentic or not!Do Pilots Get Drug Tested

Do Pilots Get Drug Tests? 

There is a good probability that you have been subjected to a drug test at some point during your job search, regardless of the industry in which you are active. 

The same is true of drug tests; if you’ve held more than one job in your lifetime, you’ve probably been subjected to several of them. It’s reasonable to suppose that an applicant for the position of the pilot would undergo a drug test as part of the first screening procedure.

But pilots have the opportunity to be drug tested much more frequently than workers in other professions. Generally speaking, the aviation business must adhere to FAA regulations

Most notably, this refers to the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules, which specify how often pilots must undergo drug testing.

How often do commercial and airline pilots get tested for drugs?

Drug tests may be conducted on pilots in the following situations:

  • Pre-employment
  • Random: The current yearly rate imposed by the FAA is 50%.
  • Timeframe: within 32 hours of the accident at the latest
  • Justifiable excuse: Because of irregularities in appearance, conduct, and ability
  • Get back to work: Requiring employees who have earlier tested positive or who have refused to undergo a test before being reinstated to their positions
  • Follow-up: For the first year after passing a return-to-duty drug test, pilots are subject to a total of six random follow-up tests.

The Physical Examination:

A drug test will not be performed on you if you go to an aviation medical examiner to get a first-, second-, or third-class medical certificate.

Examining proteins and sugars in the urine can reveal renal or diabetes-related health issues.

What are the consequences when a pilot denies a drug test?

Every pilot with a valid license who denies a drug test will face the same consequences.

According to FAR 120.11, there are consequences for saying “no application denial” for up to one year following the date of such refusal for any certification, grade, or authorization granted under part 61.

A certificate or authorization granted under this chapter’s Subpart 61 may be suspended or revoked at any time.

Refusal to undergo a drug test includes not only overtly refusing to do the test but also failing to arrive for a drug test within a sufficient amount of time, not complying with all testing protocols, leaving before the screening procedure is complete, and being belligerent.

In a drug test for pilots, what substances are often evaluated?

The FAA follows the DOT’s lead and mandates that pilots submit to drug testing that looks for many drugs. Any of the aforementioned exams will involve a thorough examination of the pilot’s substance use, including but not limited to:

  • Marijuana\Cocaine
  • Opiates\opioids
  • amphetamines laced with phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Methamphetamines

What Happens If a Pilot Fails a Drug Screening Test?

A pilot's FAA certification could be revoked or suspended if they test positive for drugs.

In the event of a violation, a pilot will be removed from all safety-sensitive duties immediately, and his organization will file a complaint with the FAA within 2 business days.

The pilot may be fired at any time by the airline company!

In the event of a positive result, the MRO will contact the pilot to determine whether or not the finding has a medically acceptable reason.

The FAA will then issue either an Investigation Letter or an Urgent Revocation Order.

In some cases, a pilot can go back to the cockpit after consulting a specialist in substance abuse (SAP). Pilots can rely on their present employers to provide them with suitable substance abuse professionals (SAPs).

The SAP will provide documentation to the pilot's current or potential employer, including recommendations for therapy and/or training.

In a subsequent meeting, the SAP will assess a pilot again to see if they have implemented the suggested training and/or therapy.

After a pilot completes a drug test, they will be subjected to return to duty and subsequent drug testing procedures.

How do drugs affect the efficiency of a pilot’s performance?

To put it simply, pilots' ability to safely operate a plane can be severely compromised by the use of medication, regardless of whether the drug is prescribed for a medical condition or is being used to treat an illness. 

Drugs, both legally and illegally obtained, have the potential to diminish cognitive abilities and cause motor impairments. Drowsiness, disorientation, blurred vision, and dizziness are common adverse effects of many over-the-counter medications, including cold tablets, cough mixes, antihistamines, appetite suppressants, and laxatives. 

Some of these medications may have stronger side effects at higher altitudes. A drug's negative effects may compound over time, and if multiple medications are taken at once, the total could be far greater than the sum of their parts. 

Antibiotics and antidepressants, like alcohol, can impair judgment, cognition, and motor control. To determine whether or not it is safe to fly while taking a certain medication, pilots should consult with a doctor who specializes in aviation medicine. 

Any kind of illegal drug use is disastrous for passengers and crew alike in the air.

To alleviate allergy symptoms or treat an allergic reaction, antihistamines are commonly used. They produce an indolent state characterized by slower reflexes, shakier coordination, and general unsteadiness, the severity of which varies with the medicine and the individual taking it.

  • Sulfa medicines are antibiotics that work by preventing bacteria from multiplying. Moreover, a sizable fraction of the population is allergic to them. 
  • These medications may also cause blurred vision, dizziness, slow reflexes, and even depression as unwanted side effects.
  • Drugs known as tranquilizers slow reaction speed, impair concentration, and create attentional fragmentation.
  • Medications for motion sickness: Motion sickness medications, whether taken orally or applied topically, can have a sedative effect and slow mental processing. They can also cause a short-term decline in one’s capacity for making sound decisions.
  • Amphetamines and other appetite suppressants can lead to a false sense of well-being that can cloud one’s judgment and lead to unhealthy weight loss.
  • Barbiturate phenobarbital is only one example of a drug that can significantly lower attentiveness.


To address your question, “Do pilots get drug tested?” We’ve compiled the following information. We hope that we have answered all of your questions about this.

Weather interpretation, fuel uplift, flight route selection, operating the aircraft and its systems, and navigational aspects of the flight are just a few of the hundreds of decisions and actions that need to be made from the beginning of the pre-flight process to the safeguarding of the aircraft at the flight’s completion. 

To complete the flight without incident and without endangering the safety of the aircraft or any other nearby aircraft, appropriate procedures must be followed and carried out. Any factor that reduces a pilot’s capacity to make judgment calls and carry out the activities necessary to do so will, of course, raise the odds of an incident occurring.

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