FAA Seeking Comments on Drug Testing for Maintenance Personnel Outside U. S.

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking comments on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that would require drug and alcohol testing of maintenance personnel who work on aircraft operated by U.S. air carriers (Part 121) in facilities outside the United States.

In the Federal Register notice, the FAA noted that it is considering developing a rulemaking that would require employees of FAA-certified foreign repair stations and certain other maintenance providers who perform safety-sensitive work on U.S. air carrier aircraft to be subject to a drug and alcohol testing program. Consistent with the Congressional mandate for the rulemaking, the testing program would have to meet FAA standards and be consistent with the applicable laws of the country where the repair station is located.  Currently, the FAA’s drug and alcohol testing regulations do not extend to companies or individuals who perform safety-sensitive functions, including aircraft and preventive maintenance, outside the United States. 

The public comment period will help the FAA develop a proposed rule and to assess its likely economic impact.  Today’s notice invites comments on a variety of issues related to proposing drug and alcohol testing requirements for the relevant employees of covered maintenance providers.  These issues include:

  • Which drugs are most misused in a particular country?  If testing programs exist, are they administered by a national regulatory authority? Are industry participants required to establish such programs under the country’s laws and regulations, or does industry do that voluntarily
  • Should the program require testing for the same drugs the FAA requires tests for in the United States? At what concentrations should alcohol and drug tests be considered “positive?”
  • Does a particular country allow or require random drug and/or alcohol testing?  If so, what is the process?
  • If a country does not allow or require random drug and/or alcohol testing, are there laws that prohibit random testing? What other methods might successfully deter employees from misusing drugs or alcohol while performing safety-sensitive duties, or within a certain period of time before performing such duties?  How would such misuse be detected?

What are the standards that employees who have violated drug and alcohol regulations should meet before they are allowed to return to performing safety-sensitive maintenance work?

The FAA’s action responds to a mandate in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

The FAA will accept comments for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Here you can view the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. (PDF)

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