Drugs and drink 'have caused air crashes'

11 June 2014 - 02:01 By Penelope Mashego
A new US study finds that smoking can prime the desire to drink more alcohol -- and to keep on drinking.
A new US study finds that smoking can prime the desire to drink more alcohol -- and to keep on drinking.
Image: bunyos30/shutterstock.com

Random alcohol-consumption tests are needed in the aviation industry but are too expensive.

According to Dr David Powell, of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, some fatal air crashes between 1980-2000 were the result of alcohol abuse or the taking of cocaine or dagga.

Speaking at the African Aerospace Medical Conference, in Midrand yesterday, Powell said that though the random testing of pilots would be helpful, it was too expensive to be practicable.

But Dr Claude Thibeault, a medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, said: "Random testing is not a cure-all without a [preventative] programme. It doesn't solve the issue."

Thibeault said that because drugs were constantly evolving, the approach to dealing with them and alcohol should also evolve.

According to South African regulations, flight crew members are not allowed to have more than 0.02g of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

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