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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

How do I establish a federal drug and alcohol testing program to comply with FAA’s regulation?

View the full FAQ here.

The FAA’s federal drug and alcohol testing regulation is outlined in 14 CFR part 120 and applies to the following persons: 

  • All air carriers and operators certificated under 14 CFR part 119 and authorized to conduct operations under part 121 or part 135 of 14 CFR; all air traffic control facilities not operated by the FAA or by or under contract to the U.S. military; and all operators as defined in 14 CFR § 91.147. 
  • All individuals who perform, either directly or by contract, a safety-sensitive function listed 14 CFR §§ 120.105 and 120.215.
  • All part 145 certificate holders who perform safety-sensitive functions and elect to implement a drug and alcohol testing program under part 120. 
  • All contractors who perform safety-sensitive functions and elect to implement a drug and alcohol testing program under part 120.

The steps to establish your program depend on your type of operation. According to 14 CFR §§ 120.117 and 120.225:

  • A part 121 or 135 operator, or a part 145 repair station that elects to conduct its own testing must obtain an Operations Specification paragraph (A449) by contacting its FAA Principal Operations or Maintenance Inspector.  
  • An air tour operator as defined in 14 CFR § 91.147 must register its program by contacting the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and requesting a Letter of Authorization (LOA). The FSDO will issue an Operations Specification paragraph (A049) as the LOA. A part 121 or 135 operator that intends to begin operations as an air tour operator must advise the FAA Drug Abatement Division.
  • An air traffic control facility not operated by the FAA or by or under contract to the U.S. Military, or a contractor that elects to conduct its own testing must register its program with the FAA’s Drug Abatement Division. 

Once you establish your program, you must implement the testing program prior to the date you start operations as a part 121 or 135, air tour operator, or air traffic control facility, or prior to performing safety-sensitive duties by contract (including subcontract at any tier) for a part 121 or 135 or 91.147 employer. You must ensure that your testing program meets all the requirements under 14 CFR part 120 and 49 CFR part 40. For implementation information and resources (including a registration form, videos and posters, sample policies and forms, guidance, and more), you should visit the FAA’s industry drug and alcohol testing website and the Department of Transportation’s website. If you hire a service agent (defined in 49 CFR § 40.3 as a consortium/third party administrator (C/TPA), collector, breath alcohol technician and screening test technician, medical review officer, and substance abuse professional) to assist you in implementing or managing your program, you must ensure the service agent is qualified (where applicable) and compliant with the federal regulations. As the employer, you are responsible for all actions of your officials, representatives, and service agency in carrying out the requirements of 14 CFR part 120 and 49 CFR part 40. 

If you have any further questions or need additional guidance that is more specific to your situation, please contact the FAA Drug Abatement Division at (202) 267-8442 or drugabatement@faa.gov.

Please visit our website to learn more about our program.

Applicable Regulations: