Nigerian Authorities test plane staff for Drugs, Alcohol


Recently, The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that it conducted a random alcohol and drug tests on licensed technical personnel of two airlines and Air Traffic Control of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). This is to ensure live safety of the people.

Furthermore, the agency explained that the objective of the exercise was to ensure safety, and that it was initiated by the Director General, Capt. MuhtarUsman, in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulatory standards.

The spokesman of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said the directive duty communicated in an Advisory Circular NCAA – AMS – 004 titled: ‘Drugs and Alcohol Policy for Air Operators Certificate holders, Air Navigation Service Providers and other aviation stakeholders,’ was issued to the aviation industry on July 1, 2016, by the authority.

It was confirmed that a total of 87 personnel from two airlines; Air Peace, Medview Airline and Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) of NAMA were randomly tested as they were about to embark on flight operations and air traffic control duties.

However, out of the 87 personnel tested, only one crew member tested positive to psychoactive substance, Tetrahydro – Cannabinol (Marijuana) and was immediately suspended by the Authority from carrying out further flight operations. It carried further investigations to ascertain the quantity of the substance in the urine sample of the crew member.

The agency stated:
“Quite clearly, the crew member violated the provisions of Part (a) and Part (3) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs 2015) NCAA has therefore sanctioned the offending aircrew in accordance with the provisions of Part (i) and Part of Nig.CARs 2015”

“The Medical Certificate and License of the aircrew members has been suspended for 180 days from April 5, 2017. Accordingly, the respondent shall cease to exercise the privileges of the license for the period of his suspension.”

As a result, NCAA said the crew member “shall within seven days of receipt of Letter of Sanction, hand over the license to the authority’s Director of Licensing (DOL).”

It further said the aircrew member “shall undergo a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation for psychoactive substance abuse during the suspension period under the care of a Consultant Psychiatrist.”

“At the end, the report of the Consultant Psychiatrist shall be reviewed by the Authority’s Consultant Psychiatrist Adviser. This is to enable NCAA consider possible restoration of the suspended Medical Certificate and License,” NCAA also directed.

The regulatory authority stated that the random drug and alcohol tests for licensed aviation personnel would be carried out periodically in order to clear off the unserious crew members and ATCs conducting flight operations under the influence of psychoactive substance which could jeopardise flight safety. The exercise was conducted by medical assessors from the Aeromedical Department of the NCAA.

However, Nigeria has twenty (20) airports and many regulated airstrips and heliports; about 23 active domestic airlines; 554 licensed pilots; 913 licensed engineers and 1700 cabin personnel. Nigeria being Africa’s most populous country is an important destination for over 22 foreign carriers. Nigeria currently has Bilateral Air Services Agreements with over 78 countries.

In order to safe guard the lives of Nigerians and foreigners, NCAA has taken a bold and valued step to curb one of the major causes of plane crash by testing for drugs before flying. However, most Nigerians welcome and appreciate such development.

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