ADS-B News and Alcohol Testing During Ramp Inspections Has Started in Some Countries

ADS-B News and Alcohol Testing During Ramp Inspections Has Started in Some Countries

ADS-B News and Alcohol Testing During Ramp Inspections Has Started in Some Countries

Aviation Groups Worry a Recent FAA Policy Statement on Actions for Non-equipped ADS-B Out Operators Caused Confusion

On April 1, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a Statement of Policy establishing its course of action for issuing air traffic control (ATC) authorization to those operating aircraft that are not equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment in ADS-B airspace after the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline.

A non-equipped ADS-B Out aircraft operator must make a request to ATC for an authorized deviation at least one hour before the proposed flight in to the ADS-B Airspace. Obtaining the authorization may be difficult as they will be addressed on a “case-by-case basis” and ATC might not be able to grant them for a variety of reasons, which include workload, runway configurations, air traffic flow, weather, etc. The FAA also made clear that it will not redirect ATC resources from their other functions for these authorizations and as they begin to divest radar, accommodations for non-equipped aircraft in ADS-B Out airspace will become more complicated. The statement also communicated that unscheduled operators conducting flights into the major facilities in class B airspace will have difficulty obtaining authorizations at all.

Shortly after the policy statement was made public, aviation groups warned that the FAA statement was not a substitute for getting ADS-B Out equipment, but rather for operators who weren’t able get their installation date before the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline due to schedule saturation. The groups added that the FAA has made it clear that non-equipped aircraft operating in ADS-B Out airspace without obtaining a preflight authorization will be in violation of the regulations.

NBAA Reports Some Countries Have Begun Alcohol Testing During Ramp Inspections

In early April, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced it had learned during meetings with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that authorities are beginning to test for alcohol consumption during ramp inspections at airports around the globe. Dutch, German and Japanese authorities have already begun testing, and Singaporean auth­orities started testing at two airports, Changi and Seletar, on March 31.

“While commercial operators have been subject to drug and alcohol testing for many years, application of these standards to non-commercial operators is new,” said Brian Koester, NBAA senior manager, flight operations and regulations. “We will work to determine pilots’ rights in these situations, continue communication with the regulating bodies to provide as much information as possible to our members and ensure authorities vigilantly adhere to the procedures put in place to protect the sensitive safety image of aviators and their employers.”

NBAA says these new requirements are in response to a 2015 Germanwings accident and other incidents that cited drug, alcohol and mental health issues as contributing factors. Flight crews will be tested via breathalyzer, and a test result of 0.02g of alcohol per 210 liters of breath will be considered positive. The 0.02g threshold is to account for mouthwash, medication, system calibration error or other inaccuracies.

If the pilot’s initial test result is positive, the operator will immediately be removed from duty and subject to a second confirmatory test. If a pilot yields two positive results, the airline, and, in some cases, local law enforcement will be notified.

“NBAA is aware of the sensitive nature of these safety checks,” added Koester. “We have been assured that authorities will conduct these tests in a private area out of view of the public.”

EASA regulations will take effect in August 2020, requiring all 49 SAFA participating countries to begin drug and alcohol testing for both flight and cabin crews in conjunction with SAFA ramp inspections. Testing may be conducted by the national aviation authority or by local law enforcement. In some countries a zero-tolerance local law may supersede the 0.02g threshold.

NBAA says it will continue to convey information to its mem­bership as it becomes available.

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