“Direct observation” of aviation employees during drug and alcohol tests applies only to individuals who are returning to duty after a previous positive test, or if there is reasonable suspicion. The tests apply to only Part 121 and 135 operations, although some Part 91 operators follow the regulations, according to Dr. Quay Snyder, president and CEO of Virtual Flight Surgeons, Aurora, Colo.
Only six airline pilots per year on average test positive for drug or alcohol abuse, he said. The new drug- and alcohol-testing regulations are from the Department of Transportation, although the rules apply to FAA-regulated employers. The implementation of mandatory direct observation for return-to-duty and follow-up tests becomes effective on November 1.