Billed as an expedited means for returning drug and alcohol-abusing pilots to the flight deck, HIMS (“Human Intervention Motivation Study”) programs have swept major airlines and are now the cure of choice. In HIMS, airlines have discovered a goldmine of meekly compliant pilots whom they can keep under their corporate thumbs, and are now busily sucking as many victims as possible into the program.
In return for the costs of rehab and monitoring, airlines get a supply of pilots fearful that anything they do to anger the company might end their careers, and who are therefore extorted into accepting undesirable, potentially unsafe operations other pilots might refuse.
Whatever the original motivations of the program, HIMS now represents an unholy alliance of substance dependence recovery and corporate discipline which neatly sidesteps virtually all of the protections typically afforded employees, particularly those embodied in union contracts. The unspoken but very real message is, “Shut up and take what we give you, or we will end your career.”