13 Apr 2010

More checks on pilots for drug and alcohol problems

7:15 pm on 13 April 2010

Random checks for criminal convictions are to be introduced for commercial pilots as authorities increase monitoring for drug and alcohol problems.

Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy says the checks will be carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority and will enhance public confidence in the system.

Mr Guy called for a report from the authority on its systems for picking up drug and alcohol problems, after the release of a police memo identifying four cases in which Air New Zealand staff were caught drink-driving.

The random checks will be made for criminal convictions that have not been declared, including driving offences.

Mr Guy says the authority also wants to introduce a new electronic database that will help them gather information and monitor trends.

However, the union representing pilots says extra monitoring for drug and alcohol problems is unnecessary.

Airline Pilots Association executive director Rick Mirkin says most employers already have programmes to monitor and deal with drink-driving and drug convictions.

Mr Mirkin told Checkpoint all pilots undertake annual medical checks and it is a requirement that they notify any infringements during the checks.

Though he was not expecting the initiatives to be announced, he does not expect any objection to them.