The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that a pilot employed by a domestic airline tested positive for marijuana in a test randomly conducted for technical personnel in the country’s aviation industry.
While the NCAA has declined to name the offending pilot, the agency disclosed that he has been suspended.
NCAA publicity manager Sam Adurogboye said in a statement that 85 staff, including pilots, cabin crew, air and traffic controllers (ATCs), were randomly selected for drug screening in line with the regulatory agency’s policy on substance abuse.
He explained that the crew member tested positive for a psychoactive substance, tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana), and was immediately suspended by the authority from carrying out further flight operations.
Mr. Adurogboye emphasized that further investigations were later carried out to ascertain the quantity of the substance in the urine sample of the crew member, stressing that the crew member clearly violated the provisions of Part 126.96.36.199. (a) and Part 188.8.131.52(a) (3) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs 2015).
The statement added, “The NCAA has therefore sanctioned the offending aircrew in accordance with the provisions of Part 184.108.40.206(f) (i) and Part 220.127.116.11(c) of Nig.CARs 2015.
“The Medical Certificate and License of the aircrew has been suspended for 180 days from April 5, 2017. Accordingly, the respondent shall cease to exercise the privileges of the License for the period of his suspension.
“In addition, the crew member would, within seven days of receipt of the Letter of Sanction, hand over the License to the Authority’s Director of Licensing (DOL).”
The statement hinted that the aircrew would undergo a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation for psychoactive substance abuse during the suspension period under the care of a consultant psychiatrist.
He declared that at the end of rehabilitation, the psychiatrist’s report would be reviewed by the authority’s consultant psychiatrist adviser, which is to enable NCAA consider possible restoration of the suspended Medical Certificate and License.
Mr. Adurogboye added that the random drug and alcohol tests for licensed aviation personnel would be carried out periodically to prevent crew members and ATCs from dangerously performing their duties under the influence of psychoactive substances.
Before the random check, Mr. Adurogboye said the agency had duly communicated in an Advisory Circular (NCAA – AMS – 004) titled “Drugs and Alcohol Policy for Air Operators Certificate Holders, Air Navigation Service Providers and other Aviation Stakeholders,” issued to the aviation industry on 1st July, 2016 by the authority.
A total of 87 personnel from two airlines, Air Peace and Med-View, and ATCs from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) were tested.
He said that the personnel were randomly tested as they were about to embark on flight operations and air traffic control duties.
Mr. Adurogboye assured the public that the NCAA would continue to carry out consistent surveillance on the aviation industry to ensure full compliance with extant regulations, stressing that failure would attract adequate sanctioning.