Drugs and Alcohol in Civil Aviation Accident Pilot Fatalities from 2004–2008
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Drugs and Alcohol in Civil Aviation Accident Pilot Fatalities from 2004–2008

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  • English

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    • Abstract:
      The FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine sets medical standards needed to protect the public and pilots from death

      or injury due to incapacitation of the pilot. As a part of this process, toxicology testing is performed by the FAA

      on almost every pilot who is fatally injured in an aviation accident to determine the medical condition of the

      pilot, medications used by the pilot at the time of the accident, and the extent of impairment, if any. The data

      were extracted from the FAA toxicology database for all fatal pilots who died from 2004 and 2008 in aviation

      accidents. The laboratory received and tested specimens from 1353 pilots who died in aviation accidents between

      2004 and 2008. Findings where classified into three separate categories: Controlled Dangerous Substance,

      Prescription, and Over-the-Counter drugs. This study was conducted to determine the extent of drug use in

      pilots who have died in an aviation accidents from 2004 to 2008 and to determine the types of drugs most

      commonly found. A comparison of previously published reports with this study’s report was made to determine

      trends in drug use by pilots who have died in aviation accidents over the past 20 years. Factors were examined

      that could influence drug trends noted over the years.

      Diphenhydramine, an H1 antihistamine with impairing properties, is the most common drug found in pilots

      who have died in aviation accidents. The FAA has taken steps to warn pilots of the dangers in using this

      medication that is dispensed as both a prescription and an over-the-counter medication. Because significant

      aviation performance impairment can be associated with diphenhydramine, the Office of Aerospace Medicine

      will continue to take steps to help pilots decide when it is safe to resume flying duties after taking such an

      impairing medication.

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