Drug testing plays a critical role in upholding safety and maintaining the highest standards in the aviation industry. One prevalent question often asked is, “Do pilots get drug tested?” The answer is unequivocally yes. To maintain the sobriety of pilots and other aviation professionals, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposes strict regulations, including the FAA/DOT drug test. Let’s explore the significance of drug testing and how it significantly affects industrial safety standards.

Do Pilots Get Drug Tested?

Pilot Drug Testing Procedures

When it comes to ensuring the utmost safety in aviation, drug testing is of paramount importance. Many people wonder, “Do airline pilots get drug tested?” Absolutely! When it comes to keeping everyone safe in aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put in place a rule that pilots must undergo regular drug testing. This ensures they are fit for duty and puts the well-being of passengers and crew first. These strict measures are all about maintaining the highest safety standards in the aviation industry.

FAA/DOT Drug Testing

The FAA/DOT drug test commonly applies the urine drug test, which can identify a wide range of substances like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and more. Such comprehensive drug testing procedures are a proactive approach taken by the aviation industry to establish a drug-free and safe environment.

Compliance with FAA/DOT drug testing is not only crucial for individual pilots but also an integral part of the industry’s overarching safety framework. Airlines and regulatory organizations prioritize the safety of all passengers by strictly adhering to these stringent testing methods.

How Often Do Pilots Get Drug Tested?

The frequency of drug testing for pilots can vary based on several factors and is designed to ensure ongoing compliance and safety within the aviation industry.

Here are some crucial considerations to consider when it comes to the frequency of pilot drug testing:

  1. Regulatory requirements: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires drug testing for pilots, however the frequency varies based on the kind of operation and other considerations.
  2. Type of operation: Varying commercial airlines, cargo carriers, and other aviation corporations may have varying drug testing protocols that dictate how frequently pilots are tested.
  3. Employment status: New hires, active pilots, and pilots returning from a leave of absence may undergo different testing frequencies to establish compliance and monitor ongoing sobriety.
  4. Random testing: Pilots are also subject to random drug testing, which can take place at any moment and without warning.

Typical intervals for drug testing in the airline industry may vary, but they often range from once to twice a year for active pilots. New hires and those returning from leaves of absence may undergo more frequent testing initially to ensure they meet the stringent standards.

The varied frequency of drug testing is a preventative precaution used to sustain the highest safety standards and promote a drug-free aviation environment.

Drug Testing for Flight Attendants

Flight attendants are critical to the safety and well-being of passengers on board an airplane. It’s natural to wonder, as with pilots, “Do flight attendants get drug tested?” Let’s explore the drug testing policies for flight attendants and how they compare to pilot testing:

Policies for flight attendants

  • Drug testing restrictions are imposed on flight attendants just like they are on pilots.
  • In order to maintain a drug-free workplace, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires drug testing for flight attendants.
  • Flight attendants are required to abide by the FAA/DOT drug testing requirements, just like pilots are required to do so. This highlights the industry’s dedication to safety and upholds the highest levels of professionalism for all aviation employees.

Comparison with pilot testing

  •  While both flight attendants and pilots are subjected to drug testing, the specific standards and frequency may differ.
  • Flight attendants are often subjected to less regular drug testing than pilots.
  • The frequency of testing for flight attendants may be influenced by factors such as the nature of the work obligations and the level of risk involved.

Overall, flight attendants play an important role in ensuring a safe and secure atmosphere onboard aircraft. Their adherence to drug testing standards is consistent with the industry’s dedication to passenger safety.

Although flight attendants may not undergo drug testing as frequently as pilots, their inclusion in the drug testing program ensures a comprehensive approach to maintaining a drug-free aviation environment.

FAA Drug Testing Policies

FAA Drug Testing Cutoff Levels

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has defined cutoff limits for drug testing in order to ensure a drug-free aviation business. Cutoff values are preset criteria used to identify a positive or negative drug test result. These levels are created to detect the presence of particular drugs in a person’s system and are based on scientific research and industry standards.

Specific FAA Cutoff Levels

The FAA has defined specific cutoff levels for different substances tested in drug screenings. These cutoff levels determine the concentration of a substance that triggers a positive test result. Here are some examples of the FAA cutoff levels:

Substance Cutoff Level
Alcohol (breath) 0.04% blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
Marijuana (THC) 50 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)
Cocaine 150 ng/mL
Amphetamines 500 ng/mL
Opiates (morphine) 2000 ng/mL
Phencyclidine (PCP) 25 ng/mL

Consequences of Failing a Drug Test

Passing a drug test while working as a pilot or flight attendant in the aviation sector can have serious consequences for your certification and future career chances. The FAA maintains a stringent drug-free employment policy, and individuals who test positive for narcotics may have their certificates suspended, canceled, or rejected. Their capacity to fill aviation-related roles may be greatly impacted by this.

Apart from the FAA’s actions, failing a drug test can have legal and professional repercussions. It may result in termination of employment, loss of trust from employers, and difficulties in finding future employment within the industry. Additionally, there may be legal consequences depending on local laws and regulations regarding drug use and safety-sensitive positions.

Possession of a Medical Card and Drug Testing

A valid medical card may be required in particular circumstances for the use of specific prescribed drugs or treatments. It’s crucial to remember, though, that holding a medical card does not protect aviation workers from having to submit to drug tests. Even with a current medical card, a positive drug test result, and related sanctions are still possible if a drug test finds the presence of an illegal substance.

Considerations for pilots

If aviation worker has valid medical card, they should make sure that the medications they take are FAA-approved and won’t prevent them from carrying out their job safely. It is essential to speak with a healthcare expert who is educated in aviation medicine and FAA standards to prevent any potential problems during drug testing.

To ensure compliance, maintain certification, and safeguard their jobs in the industry, aviation professionals must be aware of the FAA’s drug testing procedures, including cutoff levels and the repercussions of failing a drug test.

Industry-Specific Considerations

Delta Airlines Drug Testing

Delta Airlines demonstrates its steadfast commitment to creating a safe environment for all stakeholders involved in aviation travel by prioritizing drug testing programs. The company actively mitigates any hazards and safeguards against impairment that could jeopardize the safety and security of its operations through its stringent drug testing methods. Delta’s persistent commitment to ensuring a drug-free workplace represents the company’s constant devotion to the highest levels of professionalism, safety, and passenger pleasure.

Delta Airlines Pre-employment Drug Test

Delta Airlines follows a strict policy that includes a mandatory drug test for all prospective employees, including pilots and flight attendants, during the pre-employment phase. This drug test is conducted to ensure a drug-free environment and identify any presence of illegal substances. The specific guidelines and requirements for the pre-employment drug test may vary depending on the job position and local regulations. Delta Airlines is committed to upholding these measures to maintain a safe and drug-free workplace.

Other Major Airlines’ Drug Testing Policies

Delta Airlines is not the only airline that prioritizes drug testing. Other major airlines within the industry also maintain strict drug testing policies to uphold safety standards. United Airlines upholds high safety standards through its comprehensive drug testing program. Similar to Delta Airlines, United Airlines adheres to the FAA regulations and guidelines to ensure a drug-free work

Comparisons between Airlines

While major airlines share the common goal of maintaining a drug-free environment, there may be variations in their drug-testing policies. Factors such as testing frequency, cutoff levels, and additional protocols can differ between airlines. These variations may be influenced by individual company policies, local regulations, and specific job requirements within the aviation industry.

Understanding the drug testing policies of major airlines, including Delta Airlines and United Airlines, is crucial for aviation professionals and individuals seeking employment in the industry.

Will DOT Legalize Weed in 2023?

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for the legalization of marijuana in 2023 are yet unknown. Although some states have loosened their marijuana laws, it’s important to keep in mind that the DOT still falls under federal regulations and that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I-banned substance. Currently, the DOT’s drug testing standards for safety-sensitive professions in the aviation industry expressly restrict marijuana usage.

It’s important to remember that drug testing practices might shift over time as attitudes, studies, and regulations evolve. Any prospective modifications to the DOT’s marijuana policy, however, would necessitate a rigorous consideration of safety concerns as well as a complete review of existing drug testing processes.

As we move forward, staying informed about updates and revisions to drug testing policies in the aviation industry is crucial. Compliance with the current regulations and maintaining a drug-free workplace remain a top priority to ensure the safety and well-being of aviation professionals and passengers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How often do flight attendants get drug tested?

Depending on airline rules and legal regulations, the frequency of drug tests for flight attendants may change. Pre-employment drug testing is typically something flight attendants may anticipate, and they may also be subject to random, periodic, or post-incident drug testing.

Q: What happens if you fail a drug test but have a medical card?

Even with a valid medical card, failing a drug test carries risky repercussions. While having a medical card may give you some privileges in some jurisdictions, it does not preclude you from following the regulations on drug testing set forth by your employer or regulatory body. Failure to pass a drug test can result in legal consequences, loss of job, disciplinary proceedings, and possibly affect future career chances.

Q: Can pilots smoke weed?

No, due to their roles’ importance to public safety, marijuana use is strictly prohibited for pilots. Marijuana is classified as a forbidden substance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and pilots are subject to drug testing laws that forbid the use of all controlled substances, including marijuana.

Q: Is it better to fail a drug test or refuse?

It is not advised to either refuse or fail a drug test. Both behaviors have potentially harmful effects. Failure to pass a drug test can lead to legal repercussions, employment termination, disciplinary measures, and harm to one’s professional reputation. In most cases, refusing to submit to a drug test is regarded as a violation of company policy, which could result in disciplinary action or termination.

Q: Does United Airlines drug test?

Yes, as part of its extensive safety protocols, United Airlines administers drug tests, much like other large airlines. In order to guarantee a drug-free workplace and uphold the highest safety standards, United Airlines follows the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) drug testing regulations as well as its own drug testing policy.


Drug testing is essential to the aviation sector since it protects the health and safety of both employees and passengers. We have examined the prerequisites and elements of the FAA/DOT drug test for pilots and flight attendants throughout this post. We have also discussed the frequency of drug testing, industry-specific considerations such as Delta Airlines’ policies, and comparisons with other major airlines. The future of drug testing in the aviation industry, including Delta’s testing procedures, remains an important aspect of ensuring safety and compliance standards are upheld.

Understanding the consequences of failing a drug test, as well as legal and professional repercussions, underscores the gravity of adhering to drug testing protocols. The possession of a medical card raises specific considerations for pilots. For the aviation industry to maintain the highest safety standards and a drug-free workplace, compliance with these policies is still crucial.

Significant changes to drug testing in aviation may result from changing public perceptions, scientific advancements, and legal developments. Staying informed about any updates or modifications to drug testing policies will be crucial for aviation professionals and individuals aspiring to join the industry.