A person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system or acting as a remote pilot in command or visual observer must comply with the provisions of §§91.17 and 91.19 of this chapter.
Section 91.17 Alcohol or drugs.
(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft—
(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
(2) While under the influence of alcohol;
(3) While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or
(4) While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Alcohol concentration means grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
(b) Except in an emergency, no pilot of a civil aircraft may allow a person who appears to be intoxicated or who demonstrates by manner or physical indications that the individual is under the influence of drugs (except a medical patient under proper care) to be carried in that aircraft.
(c) A crewmember shall do the following:
(1) On request of a law enforcement officer, submit to a test to indicate the alcohol concentration in the blood or breath, when—
(i) The law enforcement officer is authorized under State or local law to conduct the test or to have the test conducted; and
(ii) The law enforcement officer is requesting submission to the test to investigate a suspected violation of State or local law governing the same or substantially similar conduct prohibited by paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section.
(2) Whenever the FAA has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section, on request of the FAA, that person must furnish to the FAA the results, or authorize any clinic, hospital, or doctor, or other person to release to the FAA, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates an alcohol concentration in the blood or breath specimen.
(d) Whenever the Administrator has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(3) of this section, that person shall, upon request by the Administrator, furnish the Administrator, or authorize any clinic, hospital, doctor, or other person to release to the Administrator, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates the presence of any drugs in the body.
(e) Any test information obtained by the Administrator under paragraph (c) or (d) of this section may be evaluated in determining a person’s qualifications for any airman certificate or possible violations of this chapter and may be used as evidence in any legal proceeding under section 602, 609, or 901 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958.
Section 91.19 Carriage of narcotic drugs, marihuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate a civil aircraft within the United States with knowledge that narcotic drugs, marihuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances as defined in Federal or State statutes are carried in the aircraft.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to any carriage of narcotic drugs, marihuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances authorized by or under any Federal or State statute or by any Federal or State agency.
My Commentary on Section 107.27 Alcohol or drugs.
You should also pay attention to 107.57 and 107.59 as those regulations may also be in play in your situation.
Operations while Impaired. Part 107 does not allow operation of an sUAS if the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or VO is unable to safely carry out his or her responsibilities. It is the remote PIC’s responsibility to ensure all crewmembers are not participating in the operation while impaired. While drug and alcohol use are known to impair judgment, certain over-the-counter medications and medical conditions could also affect the ability to safely operate a small UA. For example, certain antihistamines and decongestants may cause drowsiness. We also emphasize that part 107 prohibits a person from serving as a remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, VO, or other crewmember if he or she:
• Consumed any alcoholic beverage within the preceding 8 hours; • Is under the influence of alcohol; • Has a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent or greater; and/or • Is using a drug that affects the person’s mental or physical capabilities.
As proposed in the NPRM, this rule will require the remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS, and the visual observer to comply with the drug and alcohol provisions of 14 CFR 91.17 and § 91.19. Section 91.19 prohibits knowingly carrying narcotic drugs, marijuana, and depressant or stimulant drugs or substances in civil aircraft unless authorized to do so by a Federal or State statute or government agency. Additionally, § 91.17 prohibits a person from acting as a crewmember of a civil aircraft: (1) within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage; (2) while under the influence of alcohol or any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or (3) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Under § 91.17, a remote pilot in command, the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS (if that person is not the remote pilot in command), and the visual observer must submit to testing to determine alcohol concentration in the blood if there is a suspected violation of law or § 91.17. These tests must be submitted to the FAA if the FAA has a reasonable basis to believe that the person violated § 91.17.
The Small UAV Coalition, the Aviation Division of Washington State Department of Transportation, and three individuals generally supported the provisions related to drugs and alcohol. One commenter asserted that the FAA proposed no requirement about the condition of the operator, such as illness or impairment by drugs or alcohol, and that small UAS remote pilots should be required to self-certify that they are in a condition that enables them to safely operate a small UAS.
The FAA clarifies that this rule does not allow operation of a small UAS if the remote pilot in command, visual observer, or the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS is unable to safely operate the small UAS due to drug or alcohol impairment. As discussed previously, this rule will, among other things, require these people to comply with the provisions of § 91.17.
With regard to non-drug or alcohol impairment, such as an illness, the FAA notes that, as discussed in section III.F.2.c of this preamble, a person may not act as a remote pilot in command or visual observer or manipulate the flight controls of a small UAS if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS. It is also not necessary to require a self-certification statement prior to every small UAS flight because this requirement is not imposed on manned-aircraft operations by the drug and alcohol provisions of §§ 91.17 and 91.19.
Cherokee Nation Technologies commented that over-the-counter medications could impair the ability to safely operate a small UAS. The FAA agrees with this comment and notes that over-the-counter medications are addressed by the provisions of this rule. Specifically, § 91.17(a)(3) prohibits the use of any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety.
The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences commented that the contents of §§ 91.17 and 91.19, which are cross-referenced in proposed part 107, should be included in their entirety in proposed part 107 to enable ease of reading and understanding the regulations. However, duplicating the entire regulatory text of §§ 91.17 and 91.19 in part 107 is unnecessary in this case. FAA regulations, such as §§ 91.17 and 91.19, may be changed by future rulemakings or statutory changes, and cross referencing regulatory sections in part 107 will minimize inconsistencies between part 107 and any subsequent amendments made to §§ 91.17 or 91.19. Additionally, crossreferencing regulatory sections allows the FAA to avoid duplicative regulatory text in its regulations.
Two commenters expressed concerns about the potential use of small UAS for drug-smuggling and other illicit acts. The Institute of Makers of Explosives asked that the FAA specify penalties for the use of small UAS in committing illicit acts, including those involving drugs and alcohol. One commenter stated that any remote pilot should lose his or her privileges under part 107 if found to be operating while in a condition that does not permit safe operation of the small UAS. Another commenter suggested that remote pilot certificates should be denied, suspended or revoked for committing an act prohibited by 14 CFR 91.17 or § 91.19.
The FAA emphasizes that, in addition to the requirements of § 91.17 discussed above, this rule will also require compliance with § 91.19, which prohibits the knowing transportation of illegal drugs unless authorized by a Federal or State statute or government agency. If a person violates § 91.17 or § 91.19, the FAA can take enforcement action, which can result in the imposition of civil penalties or suspension or revocation of that person’s airman certificate. People who engage in illegal conduct involving drugs may also be subject to criminal prosecution under Federal or State law.