SURABAYA (AFP) – AirAsia Indonesia said Thursday it had suspended a pilot after he failed a random drugs test, days after 162 people were killed when one of the airline’s planes crashed into the sea off the island of Borneo.
“I would like to clarify that one of our pilots in a random preliminary drug test was found to be positive,” airline president director Sunu Widyatmoko said, responding to media reports that the pilot tested positive for morphine after flying from Jakarta to Bali.
“As a consequence, the pilot cannot fly pending further investigation,” he said, stressing it was an initial result and more detailed tests would be carried out.
“The preliminary result from our interview with the pilot was that he had just come out of the hospital,” he said.
“He is still consuming Actifed. In that drug test, the cough and flu medication could create a false alarm,” he said.
The pilot was a senior captain who had worked for the airline for nine years and had a clean track record.
“We will conduct further tests but we are hoping that the further tests will be negative,” Widyatmoko said.
A transport ministry official confirmed that an AirAsia pilot had tested positive for morphine on Thursday in Bali.
“The test involved 42 airline crew members from which 41 tested negative and one positive,” transport ministry official Muzaffar Ismail told AFP, adding that the AirAsia pilot would undergo another test Friday.
The news comes after AirAsia suffered its first fatal accident when Flight QZ8501 crashed on Sunday en route to Singapore.