Alcohol and aviation

Addiction. 1997 May;92(5):539-55.


Aviation accidents due to alcohol consumption by aircrew appear to be rare, especially in commercial aviation. However, a small proportion of general aviation accidents are attributable to alcohol use by aircrew, and aircrew are not well informed about the metabolism of alcohol and its effects on performance. Furthermore, there is evidence that aircrew performance may be impaired by alcohol consumption even after their Blood Alcohol Concentration has returned to "zero" (i.e. < 5 mg/dl). Accidents caused by impairment of aircrew performance by alcohol may therefore not be attributed to alcohol use at all. Aviation safety relies upon faultless human performance and is thus highly sensitive to alcohol-related impairment of performance. This paper provides a review of research regarding aircrew alcohol consumption, impairment of aircrew performance by alcohol, incidence of aviation accidents attributable to alcohol use by aircrew, and other related subjects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation / psychology*
  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications


  • Ethanol