DOT Agency - Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA regulation is 49 CFR Title 14 Part 120 - Click Here


Covered employee:

A person who performs flight crewmember duties, flight attendant duties, flight instruction duties, aircraft dispatch duties, aircraft maintenance or preventive maintenance duties; ground security coordinator duties; aviation screening duties; and air traffic control duties. Note: Anyone who performs the above duties directly or by contract for a part 119 certificate holder authorized to operate under parts 121 and/or 135, air tour operators defined in 14 CFR part 91.147, and air traffic control facilities not operated by the Government are considered covered employees. 

Types of tests for drugs:

Pre-employment, random, reasonable cause, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up. 

Types of tests for alcohol:

Pre-employment (optional), random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up. 

Definition of accident requiring testing:

Accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage. Testing must occur if employee's performance either contributed to the accident or cannot be completely discounted as a contributing factor of the accident. The decision not to test an employee must be based on a determination, using the best information available at the time of the determination, that the employee's performance could not have contributed to the accident. 

Reasonable cause determination (drugs):

Two of the employee's supervisors, one of whom is trained, shall substantiate and concur in the decision to test the employee. If the employer is not an air carrier operating under 14 CFR part 121 and has 50 or fewer employees, a single trained supervisor can make the determination. A trained supervisor makes the determination based upon specific contemporaneous physical, behavioral or performance indicators of probable drug use. 

Reasonable suspicion determination (alcohol):

One trained supervisor makes the determination based upon specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the employee's appearance, behavior, speech, or body orders. 

Pre-duty alcohol use prohibitions:

Eight (8) hours prior to performance of flight crewmember duties, flight attendant duties, and air traffic controller duties. Four (4) hours prior to performance of other duties. 

Actions for BACs 0.02 - 0.039:

If the employer chooses to return the employee to covered services within 8 hours, the BAC retest must be below 0.02. 

Employee training (drugs):

An employer must train all employees who perform safety sensitive duties on the effects and consequences of prohibited drug use on personal health, safety, and work environment, and on the manifestations and behavioral cues that may indicate drug use and abuse. Employers must also implement an education program for safety-sensitive employees by displaying and distributing informational materials, a community service hot-line telephone number for employee assistance and the employer's policy regarding drug use in the work place which must include information regarding the consequences under the rule of using drugs while performing safety-sensitive functions, receiving a verified positive drug test result, or refusing to submit to a drug test required under the rule. 

Employee training (alcohol):

Employers must provide covered employees with educational materials that explain the alcohol misuse requirements and the employer's policies and procedures with respect to meeting those requirements. The information must be distributed to each covered employees and must include such information as the effects of alcohol misuse on an individual's health work, personal life, signs and symptoms of an alcohol problem; and the consequences for covered employees found to have violated the regulatory prohibitions. 

Supervisor training (drugs):

One-hour of training is required on the specific, contemporaneous physical, behavioral, and performance indicators of probable drug use. In addition, supervisors must receive employee training as defined above. Reasonable recurrent training is also required. 

Supervisor training (alcohol):

One-hour of training is required on the physical, behavioral, speech, and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse. 


Reportable employee drug and alcohol violations: 

Each employer must notify the FAA about any covered employee who holds a certificate issued under 14 CFR Parts 61 (pilots and flight and ground instructors), 63 (flight engineers and navigators), or 65 (air traffic control tower operators, aircraft dispatchers, airframe or power plant mechanics, and repairmen) who has refused to take a drug or alcohol test. The MRO may report a positive or refusal (i.e. adulterated, substituted results or no medical explanation for providing an insufficient specimen) on behalf of the employer. 


Each employer must notify the FAA about any safety-sensitive employee who is required to hold an airman medical certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 67 who has a positive drug test result, an alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater, or who has refused to submit to testing. The MRO may report a positive or refusal (i.e. adulterated, substituted results or no medical explanation for providing an insufficient specimen) on behalf of the employer. 


Each employer must not permit an employee who is required to hold a medical certificate under part 67 to perform a safety-sensitive function to resume that duty until the employee has received a new medical certificate issued by the FAA Federal Air Surgeon and the employer has ensured that the employee meets the return to duty requirements of Part 40. (Medical certificates are not operating certificates but employees cannot continue to perform airman duties without a medical certificate.)


According to FAA’s regulation 14 CFR part 120, Subpart E, section 120.113(d), when a MRO verifies a drug test result or a SAP performs the initial evaluation, they must ask the employee whether he or she holds or would be required to hold an airman medical certificate issued under 14 CFR part 67 of this chapter to perform a safety-sensitive function for the employer. [This requirement only applies to MROs and SAPs who provide services for FAA regulated employers.] If the employee answers in the affirmative, the employee must obtain an airman medical certificate issued by the Federal Air Surgeon dated after the drug and/or alcohol violation date. 


The SAP must wait until the employee obtains their airman medical certificate before reporting to an employer that the employee demonstrated successful compliance with the SAP's treatment and/or education recommendations.