AirAsia pilot tested negative for drugs: BNN

AirAsia pilot tested negative for drugs: BNN
A saliva drug testing stick

The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) announced on Monday that an AirAsia Indonesia pilot identified only by the initials FI tested negative for drugs following a random test carried out by the Transportation Ministry.

"The results of the BNN laboratory test have been released and they are negative," BNN spokesman Comr. Sr. Sumirat Dwiyanto told the press in a conference as quoted by Antara news agency.

Sumirat said the agency received samples of FI's urine and hair on Jan. 1.

The pilot had undergone treatment in a hospital for typhoid fever and was still taking prescribed medicine on the day the drug test was administered.

"He was taking a number of prescribed drugs. This is not a drug-abuse case," he said.

The results of the test were sent to the ministry's aviation health division on Jan. 9.

The random drug test was administered following the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 on Dec. 28, which killed all 162 on board.

AirAsia Indonesia president director Sunu Widyatmoko said the airline would continue supporting the government's anti-drug programme.

"AirAsia Indonesia is always open to cooperation with relevant parties in fighting drug abuse, particularly in the air transportation sector," Sunu said in a press statement.

The pilot had earlier tested positive for morphine after being subjected to a random urine test conducted by the ministry in Bali following the AirAsia flight QZ8501 accident.

The tests involved 42 airline crew members, from which 41 tested negative and one positive.

In early 2012, the ministry revealed that it had penalized pilots and crew members of budget carrier Lion Air who were arrested for drug possession.

Several pilots were caught in possession of drugs months before the announcement, including a Lion Air pilot identified as A, who was caught with crystal methamphetamine in a karaoke bar in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Lion Air pilot Muhammad Nasri and two co-pilots were arrested at a drug party in Tangerang, Banten.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, divers from the joint search and rescue team were still trying to lift the fuselage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 from the ocean floor in the Karimata Strait, Central Kalimantan, after it failed to perform the task twice last week.

The team is trying a new method to lift the fuselage that involves a new rope-tying technique to connect the fuselage to the lifting bags.

"Our evaluation shows the problem come from the tying [method]," said National Search and Rescue Agency's (Basarnas) operational director, Air Commodore SB Supriyadi.

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