Miscellaneous

Air India pilot grounded for testing alcohol

April 09, 2017 07:52 AM
Don't drink and fly

NEW DELHI: An air India pilot was grounded for three months on Saturday when he reportedly arrived at Delhi airport in a tipsy condition to operate a flight to the Gulf.

The pilot was currently on deputation with AI Express and was to operate the budget airline's flight to Dubai.

All pilots operating domestic flights have to undergo pre-flight alcohol tests to ensure only sober ones get inside cockpits and fly safe.On international flights, pilots have to undergo post flight checks as liquor is available on board these flights



"The pilot tested positive in the pre-flight breath analyser (BA) test. Since this was the first time he has failed this test, he has been grounded for three months as per rules," said a senior AI official.

A pilot is grounded for three months, three years and forever after failing preflight BA test for the first, second and third time, respectively.

Those failing the test in post-flight checks get a year added to these groundings.

According to data with the Directorate General of civil Aviation (DGCA), the menace of tipsy pilots seems to be on the rise in India.

In 2016, as many as 224 pilots tested positive in their pre-flight BA checks - up 11% from the 2015 figure of 202.

But pilots are increasingly questioning the efficiency of machines used currently to do BA tests and allege they end up catching pilots who may have used after shaves, perfumes, cough syrups and homeopathic medicines — which have some alcoholic content in them.

In 2016, the aviation safety regulator had, for the first time, directed registering of first information reports against two pilots and three cabin crew members of commercial airlines who were found tipsy after operating international routes in post flight BA tests.

All pilots operating domestic flights have to undergo pre-flight alcohol tests to ensure only sober ones get inside cockpits and fly safe.

On international flights, pilots have to undergo post flight checks as liquor is available on board these flights.

India had, in fact, relaxed norms for tipsy flying by pilots three years ago. While a pilot now loses his or her flying licence only when caught flying in an inebriated state for the third time, till mid-2014 this fate would befall them on the second instance itself.

While the action against crew found high for the first time on work remains licence suspension for three months that for subsequent offences have been watered down. Current rules say a pilot licence will be cancelled in case of a third violation.

Earlier, pilots had their licence suspended for three months when caught drunk for the first time at work. And if the same person was caught again, his or her flying licence was suspended for five years.

This effectively meant an end to pilots' flying career as all their recencies would expire in five years.

 

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