AVIATION (DRUG & ALCOHOL TESTING) / “This rulemaking allows air carrier operators and commuter or on-demand operators that also conduct commercial air tour operations to combine the drug and alcohol testing required for each operation into one testing program. The current rule requires those operators to conduct separate testing programs for their commercial air tour operations.”

“Combined Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs.”

Final Rule. July 15, 2013.

The current rule, “results in an unnecessary duplication of effort. The intended effect of this rulemaking is to decrease operating costs by eliminating the requirement for duplicate programs while maintaining the level of safety intended by existing rules. This final rule also clarifies existing instructions within the rule, corrects a typographical error, and removes language describing a practice that has been discontinued.”

“ … [I]n May 2009, the FAA published the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program rule. That rule moved the drug and alcohol testing regulations into a new part 120.

“Part 120 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requires the establishment of a drug and alcohol testing program designed to prevent accidents and injuries that result from the use of prohibited drugs and the misuse of alcohol. Specifically, the rule requires three groups of operators to implement a drug and alcohol testing program:

  • Part 119 certificate holders authorized to conduct part 121 operations.
  • Part 119 certificate holders authorized to conduct part 135 operations.
  • Commercial air tour operators as defined in § 91.147.

“These requirements are meant to ensure that any person who performs safety-sensitive functions for these operators, either directly or by contract (including subcontractor at any tier), is subject to drug and alcohol testing.

“Under the current rules, operators who are conducting a part 121 or part 135 operation and commercial air tour operations must administer separate drug and alcohol testing programs. Numerous operators have petitioned the FAA for an exemption from the requirement to maintain two separate drug and alcohol testing programs because having two programs often requires testing the same employees twice. This duplication adds administrative and financial burdens for the operator but it does not increase safety.

Since 2008, the FAA has granted approximately 135 exemptions allowing operators to implement a single testing program. Given the large number of exemptions that the Agency has granted, and the need to renew them every two years, the FAA believes it is appropriate to simply amend the existing rule. This approach relieves operators from seeking an operator-specific exemption. In granting these exemptions, the FAA has recognized that, in most cases, the same employees and equipment are used interchangeably between the part 121 or part 135 operation and its commercial air tour operation. Therefore, the FAA has found that when a part 119 certificate holder operates both a part 121 or a part 135 operation and a § 91.147 commercial air tour operation, combining the two testing programs maintains a level of safety equivalent to that provided by the current regulations. Under one testing program, employees are still subject to drug and alcohol testing in accordance with part 120. Any existing exemptions for combined testing programs held by part 121 or part 135 operators that also conduct § 91.147 operations will expire on the effective date of this rule. Those certificate holders with current exemptions need not take any action to comply with the requirements outlined in this rule.”