New FAA Drug Policy Eases Certificate Reinstatement

The Federal Aviation Administration is issuing a policy that will offer eligible commercial pilots whose certificates were revoked for allegedly violating drug or alcohol testing a process for quick settlement of their case and re-issuance of their certificate. The policy takes effect October 1.   

Currently, a commercial pilot who receives a disqualifying drug or alcohol test result or refuses to take a test may face certificate revocation and may not apply for recertification for a minimum of one year. The period of time between the FAA’s discovery of a violation and the re-issuance of a certificate or issuance of a special certificate can be lengthy. 

Under the new policy, a pilot whose certificate was revoked may within 10 days request consideration for a prompt settlement of the legal enforcement action. This procedure is expected to allow pilots who have established the qualifications to hold a new certificate, and have met the requirements for a special issuance,  to more quickly assume commercial flight crewmember duties.

“Indeed, it should allow pilots to apply for a new pilot certificate closer in time to a determination that the pilot is eligible for a special issuance [following timely evaluation, treatment, and continuing comprehensive care in accordance with the HIMS program],” the FAA said. “Further, the added predictability of this process should allow…both the pilot and the FAA to better allocate limited resources.” This program will be available only to first-time violators.