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FAA Officials: Drug/Alcohol Rule Enforcement Philosophy Will Focus On Next-Level Tiers

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drug Abatement Division have clarified that the de facto enforcement policy behind the new drug and alcohol (D&A) testing program rule will focus on tiers linked directly by contracts, not facilities far down the line.
Speaking at a recent industry meeting, the FAA officials acknowledged that under the regulation, each entity with a D&A program is responsible for its own compliance and the compliance of all lower tiers.
However, Drug Abatement Division Manager Diane Wood said the agency has no intention of holding the carrier or higher-tier repair stations responsible for violations many tiers down the line. The only exception, according to Wood, would be in “extreme cases” where it was obvious the carrier and/or repair station(s) did not even attempt to ensure compliance among its lower tiers.
The exchange took place at a meeting hosted by the Regional Airline Association (RAA) and FirstLab, a D&A program management specialist. Attendees included several officials from the FAA’s Drug Abatement Division as well as representatives from industry organizations, including ARSA.
In a follow up letter to Wood (.pdf), the RAA expressed its understanding of the agency’s enforcement philosophy this way:
Drug Abatement Office inspectors will focus on the program of the entity being inspected, as well as the steps that entity has taken to ensure compliance of companies with which it has a direct contract. Only in extreme cases, where an inspector determines that a violation at a lower tier has resulted from an egregious lack of oversight by higher tier companies, would the Drug Abatement Office inspectors go “up the chain” more than one tier to assess violations.

The RAA asked the agency to clarify its enforcement philosophy if it differs from what industry understood–and the FAA officials articulated–at the meeting.
ARSA remains in close contact with our RAA colleagues and will keep its members informed of any FAA response.
For more on the new D&A rule click here.



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