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FAA DRUG TEST REPORT 'GROSSLY MISLEADING,' AIRLINE INDUSTRY OFFICIAL SAYS

 FAA DRUG TEST REPORT 'GROSSLY MISLEADING,'
 AIRLINE INDUSTRY OFFICIAL SAYS
 WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's report by the Federal Aviation Administration on drug use in aviation is grossly misleading, the head of the airline trade association said.
 "Today's report leaves the false impression that more airline employees are testing positive. That is not the case," Robert J. Aaronson, president of the Air Transport Association (ATA), said. "Why FAA would choose to frighten travelers with a half-baked report is incomprehensible," he added.
 In fact, a smaller percentage of the major airlines' employees tested positive for drugs in 1991 than in 1990, he said. ATA member airlines conducted 137,103 tests in 1991, of which 0.28 percent were positive. In 1990, 0.31 percent of the tests conducted were positive. The rate of positives for flight crews last year was approximately 0.039 percent.
 "We are extremely encouraged to see what already was a very low positive test rate in 1990 drop even further last year," Aaronson said. "We're proud of the people who work for us, and we think it is an injustice to them, and misleading to the traveling public, for FAA to leave the impression that airline drug use is on the rise," he added.
 Aaronson pointed out that FAA's report, which states that the positive test rate last year was double what it was the year before, covers all of aviation, including some new categories of outside contractors that were not even included in the 1990 test program. More tests also were required last year than in the previous year.
 "The 1991 results of our members are clear evidence that drug abuse is rare among the major airlines and that FAA could lower the random test rate for the carriers without jeopardizing safety," Aaronson said.
 ATA has petitioned the FAA to lower the annual random test rate from 50 percent of all employees in safety-related jobs to 10 percent -- a level the airlines believe would still be a strong deterrent to drug use. The major airlines in 1991 conducted 99,251 random drug tests, of which 0.29 percent were positive compared with 0.39 percent of the random tests conducted in 1990.
 "The rate of positives for random tests declined last year even though we were doing more of them," Aaronson said.
 -0- 6/8/92
 /CONTACT: Tim Neale of the Air Transport Association, 202-626-4206/ CO: Air Transport Association; Federal Aviation Administration ST: District of Columbia IN: AIR SU:


DC -- DC028 -- 8098 06/08/92 17:03 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 8, 1992
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