Ministry moves to contain fallout after Lion Air drug affair

The Transportation Ministry is moving fast to contain the damage from the use of recreational drugs by pilots and cabin crew by expanding the protocols for drug abuse prevention.


The ministry has issued a circular requiring airline companies to intensify drug tests on pilots and crew members as required by the Standard Operating Procedures for Drug Abuse Prevention. The circular also demands that the procedures be applied to all types of commercial airlines.

Previously, the drug prevention protocol did not apply to airlines holding a 135 Certificate or those operating aircraft with fewer than 30 seats, such as Airfast Indonesia, Aviastar and Susi Air.

The ministry’s move follows a series of incidents involving Lion Air pilots and crew members who were caught red-handed with drugs. A Lion Air pilot was caught in possession of crystal methamphetamine in a karaoke bar in Makassar, South Sulawesi, last week. In 2011, authorities recorded five drug arrests involving Lion Air pilots and crew members.

Ministry spokesperson Bambang Ervan said on Friday that the circular was in line with the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR), Article 91 on violations related to alcohol and drugs and Article 61 on sanctions for violating safety regulations linked to drugs and alcohol.

Bambang also confirmed that intensifying measures against drug use was a response to an alarming prevalence of drug use found among Lion Air pilots and crews.

Human error has been the biggest source of air accidents in Indonesia. According to the National Committee for Transportation Safety,
52 percent of all aircraft accidents between 2007 and 2011 were caused by human error.

Bambang said that on top of the new circular, the ministry was drafting a “Drugs and Alcohol Testing Program” that would apply to all people involved in air transportation-related work on a daily basis.

“The Drugs and Alcohol Testing Program will apply to air traffic controllers, ground crews, technicians and airport security personnel,” he added.

On a separate occasion, operators said that they were ready to intensify drug prevention measures.

Lion Air general affairs director Edward Sirait welcomed the circular, saying it was necessary to increase safety measures.

“We will increase urine sampling from 50 to 100 this year,” Edward told The Jakarta Post.

The airline’s contract clearly states that pilots or crew members found to be using drugs will have their contracts terminated, he added.

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia public relations senior manager Ikhsan Rosan also supported the government’s effort to decrease drug abuse among pilots and flight crew.

“We already have a system that is strict about pilots’ and crew members’ health. We see this circular as a government effort to remind airlines to put safety first,” Ikhsan told the Post. (nfo)


Source: The Jakarta Post



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