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AIRLINES CONCERNED ABOUT ALCOHOL TESTING PROPOSAL

 WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Transport Association (ATA) President Jim Landry expressed concerns about the U.S. Department of Transportation's proposal for alcohol testing of transportation workers announced today by Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card.
 "My initial reaction is that DOT has proposed a rule that does not reflect the operational demands of the airline industry," said Landry, in voicing concerns held by the 19 member U.S. airlines of ATA. "The prospect of testing pilots during the turnaround time between flights is excessive. Our pilots do not drink in the cockpit, and the implication of the proposal will only serve to frighten passengers. Practically speaking, trying to test crew members during a 20-minute turnaround will be impossible."
 While reserving judgment on the specifics of the proposed rule, Landry reiterated the airline industry's position that various transportation modes must be viewed separately. "As we told Congress when the authorizing legislation was under consideration, no commercial aviation accident has ever been caused by alcohol abuse by an airline employee. Unfortunately, other modes cannot say the same thing. Nevertheless, airline employees are being forced to wear a scarlet letter because of the problems of other transportation modes."
 Card announced the proposed rule at a press conference at the Department of Transportation. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, Dec. 15, initiating a 120-day public comment period. The rule is required by congressional action taken in 1991.
 Landry also expressed disappointment at the department's announcement of a lengthy procedure to consider lowering the sampling rate for random drug testing of airline workers. "We petitioned the department almost 18 months ago to lower the sampling rate from 50 to 10 percent, and provided ample data to support our request. Subsequent DOT reports verified the industry's exemplary record," said Landry. "Yet their response is to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking saying We'll have to gather some more facts and think about them before we open a final rulemaking proceeding.' I can only hope this lengthy process will result in lowering the testing rate to a more reasonable level, in light of the outstanding low rate of drug use among flight crews.
 "Department officials have stated that their objective in developing final rules is to deter drug and alcohol use, while not burdening industry," said Landry. "ATA intends to hold them to their promise."
 -0- 12/10/92
 /CONTACT: Chris Chiames of the Air Transport Association, 202-626-4172/


CO: Air Transport Association; U.S. Department of Transportation ST: District of Columbia IN: AIR SU:

MH -- DC019 -- 5835 12/10/92 13:37 EST
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Date:Nov 13, 1992
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