Mattias Lindros: I have only been tested 2 times in 20 yearsFebruary 19, 2019
While alcolocks in buses are becoming more common, in aviation, the enforcement of strict alcohol laws are much weaker. As we hear from Mattias Lindros, a commercial pilot from Sweden, the need for change is real. Mattias has started CrewGuard, a proactive system that will enhance flight safety and also improve the health of all personnel onboard an aircraft by introducing checks for alcohol as a standard procedure.
Lauri Beekmann: What is CrewGuard and how did you come to this idea?
Mattias Lindros: We started CrewGuard about a year ago after noticing an ongoing issue with alcohol and flying. I’m a pilot and have about 20 years of commercial flying around the world and I have seen my fair share of incidents. The real problem was the lack of checks for alcohol. During my career, I have only been tested 2 times in 20 years and that is not enough. I also saw a difference between aviation and other transport industries where alcolocks in taxis, buses are becoming more common. I involved myself with some of the top software developers to create a system that was fast, reliable, easy-to-use and was able to check 100% of all the crews working onboard an aircraft.
What is the current regulation in this field?
The airlines have different regulations and they all are very strict regarding alcohol and flying. Many airlines have an 8-24 hour rule not to drink before the flight. The problem is the way they check on how the rules are followed. There are no checks and the airlines trust that any employee who shows up drunk before work will be reported. The issue is that anyone with an alcohol problem becomes an expert in hiding his or her abuse. We have seen many cases where a crewmember is intoxicated but none of the other colleges notices anything. We need the airlines to start performing checks for alcohol as part of their standard procedures.
Some time ago The Telegraph wrote about the problem and cited Dr Rob Hunter of the British Airline Pilots Association who commented a possibility of introducing a breathalysing system with the following words: “We believe this testing could lead to emotional distress of pilots”. As a pilot yourself, how do you comment that? Pilots are well educated and highly trained professionals. We undergo continuous simulator checks with high pressure and a lot of stress. We are constantly monitored by different Flight Data Monitoring systems. Checks for alcohol should not cause any issue for this group of professionals. As per today, we see randomized checks being performed on pilots and cabin crew without any complaints of emotional distress. The common interest for all the passengers, knowing their pilots are sober, must weigh higher. The pilot Union must see the benefit of a system that can offer their members an opportunity of rehabilitation at an early stage. The unions should work together with the airline to create a “just culture” approach to the alcohol policies that will work in favour for their members. As a pilot myself, I would have no problem using a breathalyzer before each duty to prove to my colleagues and all the passengers that I was sober.
In your opinion, why we don´t see mandatory systems for pilots and crew members?
We think that mandatory checks for alcohol will become standard in the future. Stricter rules are happening and aviation authorities need to be aware that mandatory checks are possible to enforce and don’t have to be difficult or expensive. Once the regulations are adapted to a realistic view of alcohol and flying, then we will see more airlines enforcing this.
What are your next steps getting CrewGuard introduced to more countries and airlines?
We will continue to work with the airlines, aviation authorities and interest organizations to show that we can improve aviation safety by introducing checks for alcohol as part of an airlines standard operating procedure. Hopefully, we will see a reduction of drinking as a result of mandatory checks and thus increasing the health of the airline employees.
What is your opinion on unruly passengers problem and alcohol´s role in it? Do you think we will see alcohol-free flights, like we have “non-smoking flights”, on the horizon?
During my aviation career where there has been unruly passengers onboard, alcohol has been an contributing fact in most of those cases. The cabin crew are always good in their job of denying passengers drinks when they seem to intoxicated but the real problem is when passengers drink alcohol that they brought onboard in their own bags. This is impossible to check and that causes a lot of problems onboard an aircraft. One possible solution is to only be allowed to buy alcohol upon arrival at the destination. That together with a much stricter check of intoxicated passengers before they get on the airplane is the best way to start. If that doesn’t help then there is a high possibility that we will see non-alcohol flights in the future.
Learn more about CrewGuard from HERE