On 5 November 2012, a Hawker B200 aircraft, registered VH-FDT (FDT), departed Bundaberg on an aeromedical retrieval flight to Brisbane, Queensland. On board the aircraft were the pilot, the flight nurse and two patients.

Between 1556 and 1607 Eastern Standard Time, Brisbane Centre and Brisbane Approach attempted to contact FDT on a number of occasions, with no response received.

The nurse also became concerned as she had not yet sighted the geographic features she normally observed. The nurse turned towards the pilot and observed that his chin was slumped onto his chest and he was not alert. The nurse attempted to arouse the pilot, at which time the stall warning alarm activating. The pilot regained alertness and initiated recovery actions. 

The aircraft landed at Brisbane at 1617.

Drug and Alcohol Management Plan (DAMP) testing was conducted, which returned a positive reading for an illicit substance, which had affected the pilot’s sleep cycle.

Flying an aircraft is a complex, demanding and challenging activity, which requires a high level of cognitive functioning and psychomotor skills. The significant performance impairments associated with drug use are widely recognised. Consequently, the use of drugs by pilots can adversely affect their ability to safely operate an aircraft.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 17