A random drug test led to a cancelled flight on Singapore Airlines, underscoring what could be a much broader problem.
Singapore Airlines flies from Melbourne, Australia to Wellington, New Zealand, known as the airlines’ Capital Express Route. On Saturday, Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) officials randomly tested the crew for alcohol and drugs in their blood.
The pilot had flown in from Singapore a couple days earlier and had been relaxing in Melbourne before the continuation of SQ 247.
Upon failing the sobriety test, he was instantly suspended pending further investigation. Sadly for the passengers onboard, another pilot could not be located and the flight was cancelled. Many passengers onboard were headed to a rugby match in Wellington and were unable to reach it. The return flight was also cancelled.
@SingaporeAir care to try to explain why your captain (ie most experienced person on the aircraft) of SQ247 waits until boarding time to decide they’re too ill/drunk to fly? Will miss the 1st #allblacks #rugby match I bought tickets for and flew to WLG from NRT to see😭 #sad
— Muteki iikun (@M_iikun) September 15, 2018
How Big A Problem Is This?
One random drug test, one pilot unfit to fly. First, let’s concede that the pilot may have been “sober” in the sense that the alcohol had no effects on his speech, vision, and ability to fly the plane. Sometimes alcohol in blood can linger long after the physical effects of that alcohol have passed. I’d like to give him the benefit the doubt and hope that was the case.
But pilots should know they are held to a higher standard. The mindset should not be “how much I can get away with” but understanding the solemn responsibility of taking the lives of hundreds of people into their hands.
I hope news stories like this will cause pilots to think twice about having that third beer or second glass of wine, even if it leads to no discernible changes in behavior.
image: Transport Pixels / Wikimedia Commons