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Intoxicated pilot roles in aviation accidents studied


The frequency of aviation accidents in Montana or elsewhere in the United States is far less when compared to car accidents on Montana roads. When these aviation accidents do happen, however, they have the potential to cause more damage than any vehicular accident. A plane crash may cause extensive damage to property and also take hundreds of lives.

A recent study revealed that, increasingly, pilots who die in aviation accidents had used drugs, both illegal and legal, before flying. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, these pilots were reportedly taking drugs that could impair their senses, reflexes and decision-making skills while flying.

The study examined the toxicology reports of 6,700 pilots who were killed in plane crashes that occurred between 1990 to 2012. In the study, the ratio of the number of pilots who were on one drug had increased, as well as the number of pilots who had taken more than one drug.

The number of pilots testing positive for at least one drug showed a sharp increase over this time period, to 39 percent from about 10 percent. The pilots who tested positive for two drugs also shot up to 20 percent from two percent and the number of pilots who tested positive for three drugs showed an increase of eight percent from 0 percent.

The NTSB report also indicated that a drug-impaired pilot was a significant factor in three percent of aviation accidents. An NTSB medical officer said that the study was limited to aviation accidents alone, because comprehensive data does not exist for maritime, rail and road accidents. Also, nine of the ten pilots studied worked for private, rather than commercial, airlines.