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Many questions, few answers

It has been almost three weeks since a pilot and two crewmembers of the two airlines were tested positive for psychoactive substance and grounded. But not much is being known about the substances they tested positive for.
There is a huge public interest, as the incident happened in the aviation sector, which is considered more severe. We can understand the public interest. Travelling by air is no more a privilege for the rich and the civil servants unlike in the past. The traffic is increasing and the travellers include average Bhutanese.
In Bhutan there is not much choice, as other airlines are not operating from the country. Therefore, when news goes around that crewmembers are tested positive for drugs, as they understand, there is a concern. The conversation going around is that many Bhutanese and foreigners alike have risked their life, and that the national airline and Tashi Airlines have risked the lives of thousands of people.
People want to know what kind of substance had been abused. They want to know if the rest will be tested and when. They want information to allay their fears that has caught their imagination.
The incident has put the Civil Aviation Authority in an uncomfortable place. The authority is governed by the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. As a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the authority has adopted the ICAO’s standard and recommended practice relevant to problematic use of substances. When the first test resulted in grounding crewmembers including pilot, it is not a good image we are presenting.
The incident happened during a random testing, the first of its kind, although the authority in consultation with other stakeholders were working on the mandate. It is quite a shock to hear that the BCCA had not done the test in the past. It is even more shocking why authorities are not doing the test on the others, about 100 staff.
Some are even assuming that authorities are waiting for the effect of the psychoactive substances to cease before they conduct the next test.
Although authorities have grounded those who tested positive, the action taken is also being questioned. The pilot and the crewmembers could apply for reinstatement of their documents, which means they can fly again when authorities are satisfied that they are fit to resume duties.
Many feel that this is not a deterrent factor especially when we have people locked up for carrying few extra packets of tobacco.

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