FAA Drug Testing Consortium

Jonathan Baktari, MD / CEO of US Drug Test Centers

Employers regulated by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are required to have a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program. This includes air carriers and aircraft maintenance or preventive maintenance operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration required drug and alcohol testing programs fall under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations 49 CFR Part 40. The DOT FAA drug test is required by the Omnibus Transportation Employees Testing Act of 1991 and by DOT and FAA regulations (49 CFR part 40 and 14 CFR part 120). The FAA Drug Abatement Division oversees the aviation industry's compliance with the drug and alcohol testing law and regulations.

FAA CFR Part 120 applies to the following employers:

  • All air carriers and operators certificated under CFR Part 119 of this chapter and authorized to conduct operations under CFR Part 121 and/or CFR Part 135
  • All air traffic control facilities not operated by the FAA or by or under contract to the U.S. military
  • All operators conducting sightseeing operations as defined in 14 CFR § 91.147
  • CFR Part 145 certificate holders who perform safety-sensitive functions and elect to conduct drug and alcohol testing under CFR Part 120
  • Contractors who perform safety-sensitive functions and elect to conduct drug and alcohol testing under CFR Part 120

Designated Employer Representative

An FAA-regulated company must appoint a Designated Employer Representative (DER) as the person in charge of the company’s drug and alcohol testing program. The DER shall be responsible for:

  • Providing oversight and evaluation of the drug and alcohol testing program
  • Providing guidance and counseling
  • Reviewing all discipline applied under this plan for consistency and conformance to human resources policies and procedures
  • Scheduling types of testing (random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, etc.)
  • Maintaining a locked file system on all test results
  • Overseeing the referral of employees for evaluation and treatment

The Designated Employer Representative is an employee authorized to take immediate action to remove employees from (or have them removed from) safety-sensitive duties and to make required decisions in the testing and evaluation processes. The DER function cannot be outsourced.

The position of DER is a huge responsibility for a company employee. Fortunately, training for DERs is available. US Drug Test Centers can offer to DERs a comprehensive training program delivered by:

  • Live in-person training
  • Live webinar training
  • Computer-based online training

FAA Required Drug and Alcohol Testing Program

US Drug Test Centers can help you with the initial steps to develop and implement your FAA required drug and alcohol testing program.

  • First, obtain the applicable Operations Specifications paragraph or FAA DOT drug test and alcohol testing program registration as described in 14 CFR §§ 120.117 and 120.225
  • Ensure that no one is hired for or transferred into a safety-sensitive function without first getting a DOT FAA pre employment drug test and receiving a negative test result. More information regarding the DOT/FAA pre-employment drug test may be found in 14 CFR § 120.109(a). Pre-employment alcohol testing is not required but may be implemented according to 14 CFR § 120.217(a)
  • Educate and train your employees on the effects and consequences of drug abuse and alcohol misuse. More information regarding training and materials may be found in 14 CFR §§ 120.115 and 120.223
  • Ensure that employees are placed into the random FAA DOT drug screening and alcohol testing pool and have an equal chance of being tested each time selections are made. More information regarding random testing may be found in 14 CFR §§ 120.109(b) and 120.217(c)

There are many more requirements of the drug and alcohol testing regulations. US Drug Test Centers can help.

faa regulated airplane

Remember that it’s not just airlines that must implement the FAA required drug and alcohol testing regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration's drug and alcohol testing regulations (14 CFR part 120) require any CFR Part 119 certificate holder that is authorized to operate under CFR Parts 121 and/or 135 to ensure that any person who performs safety-sensitive functions (e.g., maintenance or preventive maintenance), directly or by contract (including by subcontract at any tier), is subject to drug and alcohol testing. See boxes below for safety-sensitive positions and FAA testing requirements.

When hiring by contract, the air carrier must either:

1. Cover the contractor's safety-sensitive employees under its FAA drug and alcohol testing program; or

2. Ensure that the contractor has implemented its own FAA drug and alcohol testing program.

For expert consultation on FAA drug and alcohol testing programs and random testing consortiums, please contact US Drug Test Centers.

Employees Covered in the FAA Drug and Alcohol Testing

Under the FAA program, a covered employee means an individual who performs, either directly or by contract, a safety-sensitive function listed in §§ 120.105 and 120.215 for an employer (as defined in paragraph (i) of this section). For purposes of pre-employment testing only, the term "covered employee" includes an individual applying to perform a safety-sensitive function. The safety-sensitive functions in the FAA drug and alcohol testing are:

  1. Flight crewmember duties
  2. Flight attendant duties
  3. Flight instruction duties
  4. Aircraft dispatcher duties
  5. Aircraft maintenance and preventative maintenance duties
  6. Ground security coordinator duties
  7. Operations control specialist duties
  8. Aviation screening duties
  9. Air traffic control duties

FAA Drug and Alcohol Testing Training Required

The FAA requires a strict educational program which includes:

  • Conducting and documenting initial training for employees and their supervisors about drug use
  • Supervisors who will make reasonable cause/suspicion testing determinations must complete initial training
  • Supervisors who make reasonable cause drug testing determinations must receive recurrent training. The employer must display and distribute the drug policy, a hotline number, and drug informational materials, as well as distribute and document distribution of your alcohol misuse policy
  • Make sure the drug and alcohol policies include the consequences for using drugs while performing, testing positive, violating the alcohol prohibitions, or refusing to submit to testing

Best practices to ensure compliance with education and training include:

  • Conduct recurrent training for supervisors on a 12-18 month schedule, and include a refresher on alcohol testing
  • Document all parts of training, including the date it took place, who attended, how long it lasted, and what topics were covered

US Drug Test Centers provides an easy-to-use computer-based online training program to help you with FAA drug and alcohol testing compliance.

inside of airplane

Getting Started

Starting an FAA drug and alcohol testing program is not an easy task. US Drug Test Centers can provide expert assistance to get you started. US Drug Test Centers can act as your Consortium/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA), a service agent that can implement the required components of the drug and alcohol testing program for you, the employer. We can provide the following services to help you to be in compliance with the FAA.

  • A written custom drug-free workplace policy on controlled substances use and alcohol misuse in the workplace – your customized DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy
  • Educational materials to be distributed to all covered employees
  • Supervisor training materials and access to live or online additional supervisor training
  • Employee assistance programs, rehabilitation, and treatment programs information
  • Access to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for DOT violations
  • Collection sites, urine collections, lab testing, and MRO review and reporting
  • Breath alcohol testing (BAT)
  • Random testing instructions for required random testing, and complete consortium management for your required random testing program
  • All required forms for compliance
  • Instructions for required record keeping

FAA Safety-Sensitive Positions

Safety Sensitive Positions
  • flight crewmember duties
  • flight attendant duties
  • flight instruction duties
  • aircraft dispatcher duties
  • aircraft maintenance and preventive maintenance duties
  • ground security coordinator duties
  • aviation screening duties
  • air traffic control duties
  • operations control specialist duties

FAA Testing Requirements

FAA Testing Requirements
  • pre-employment testing
  • reasonable suspicion/cause testing
  • random testing
  • return-to-duty testing
  • follow-up testing
  • post-accident testing

Alcohol testing is required for all above except for pre-employment testing. This is optional.

Our Drug Testing Partners