When you take a commercial flight, you place a good deal of trust in the professional piloting the plane, counting on this party to get you and your loved ones where you need to go safely. Yet, alcohol abuse is often a problem among commercial pilots, with some believing pilots are more susceptible to alcoholism than members of the general population.
Per Smithsonian, pilots face strict regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration when it comes to when they may consume alcohol and how much they may consume.
Regulations surrounding pilots and alcohol
Under federal guidelines, pilots may not drive planes if their breath alcohol concentration exceeds 0.04%, which is half the legal limit in place in most states. Furthermore, pilots may not consume any alcohol at all within eight hours of getting behind a plane’s controls, although some airlines have even stricter limits. Pilots also have to undergo random screenings throughout the year to ensure they do not test positive for drugs or alcohol.
Reasons pilots may be more susceptible to alcoholism
Many believe that the rate of alcoholism among pilots is similar to that seen across the general population. Alcoholism affects about 12.7% of adults in the general population. Yet, some believe pilots are more susceptible to alcoholism because of something called “pilot personality,” which makes some of them almost immune to fear. This lack of fear may make some pilots underestimate their risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Unusual sleep schedules, a reduction in time spent with loved ones and other job-related stresses may also make pilots more inclined to drink.
Pilots have a professional and ethical duty to stay sober when flying planes. Pilots who fly under the influence and injure or kill others may face serious legal sanctions.