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FAA, Spirit Airlines ‘quickly became aware’ of Centerville pilot’s death

Questions remain if Centerville pilot who likely overdosed was tested.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Spirit Airlines “quickly became aware” of pilot Brian Halye’s likely drug overdose death, a spokeswoman for the federal agency said Monday.

Spirit Airlines also released new information to the Dayton Daily News and NewsCenter 7 about how it drug tests pilots, though the company has not said if it is internally investigating Halye’s death.

MORE: Funeral services set for centerville pilot, wife suspected of drug overdose

Halye, 36, of Centerville, and wife Courtney Halye, 34, were found dead Thursday by their four children. Their deaths appear to be drug-related, according to Montgomery County Coroner’s Office Director Ken Betz.

Investigators have not given any indication the Spirit Airlines pilot used drugs before the incident that led to his death. Halye’s last flight for the company before his death was March 10, a Spirit Airlines spokesman said.

MORE: Centerville wife found dead with pilot ‘hooked on drugs’ for years

Airline explains drug tests

The Dayton Daily News last week asked Spirit Airlines to provide more information about Halye’s employment, including the last route he flew and scheduled flights, the dates and results of any drug screens during and before his employment, and whether the carrier was aware of Halye’s apparent drug use.

The company initially declined to respond, though the Dayton Daily News continued to ask for comment over the weekend. On Monday, Spirit Airlines provided the newspaper with additional details about the airline’s drug policy, but the company did not say if it is internally investigating the matter, or the last time Halye was tested.

“Spirit Airlines is required by federal regulations to operate with the highest degree of safety,” said Spirit Airlines spokesman Paul Berry in an emailed statement.

MORE: Overdoses likely cause of death of Centerville couple

U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration “regulations require that the airline conduct various drug and alcohol tests on all safety-sensitive employees including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and dispatchers,” Berry said.

“These tests include, but are not limited to, pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing. Spirit Airlines is fully compliant with these DOT and FAA regulations,” Berry said.

“In addition, Spirit Airlines has implemented and maintains a number of programs, in cooperation with its pilot union, that exceed any federal mandates, designed to detect, report and assist employees with potential life challenges,” he said.

“In the event that someone in a safety sensitive position tests positive, they would be immediately removed from their position,” Berry said.

FAA database had ‘discrepancy’

The FAA and Spirit Airlines stay in “constant contact,” an FAA spokeswoman said, noting both organizations “quickly became aware” of the pilot’s death.

On Monday, the FAA confirmed the agency’s public database of pilots was updated to reflect the most up-to-date medical information about Halye, following the newspaper’s discovery of a discrepancy in agency records.

Last week, the federal agency’s database of pilots suggested Halye’s last medical certification was issued in September 2011, though the spokeswoman said Halye’s medical certification was up-to-date.

MORE: Spirit Airlines pilot’s suspected overdose draws national attention

The discrepancy was due to a duplication of files in the agency’s master database when Halye elected not to use his Social Security number when filing his certification, something that “happens occasionally,” according to FAA Spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory.

“The elimination of the Social Security number means the airman was assigned a random number, and ended up with two files in the master database,” Cory said. “They were merged in the master file, which enabled me to answer the question about whether he had an active medical so quickly on Thursday.”

The updated database lists Halye’s last medical certification as September 2016. While a urine sample is taken during the tests, the sample is tested for diseases but not drug use.

MORE: What is fentanyl and how does it kill?

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