Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Air India "Rewarded" Arvind Kathpalia After Alcohol Test Fail Last Year

New Delhi: The removal of senior pilot Captain Arvind Kathpalia from the Air India board has been widely praised, with many terming it as the ailing national carrier's first step towards getting its act together.
Captain Kathpalia tested positive for blood alcohol on Sunday, after which Air India suspended his flying licence for three years. This was strike two for the senior pilot, whose licence was earlier revoked for three months last February on charges of circumventing the mandatory pre-flight breathalyser test and manipulating medical records.

However, there is more to the story than what meets the eye. NDTV has found that soon after Captain Kathpalia was handed out his three-month suspension last year, he was promoted from his position as an Executive Director to the Director of Flight Operations at Air India for a five-year period. The rationale behind promoting a pilot accused of forging an alcohol test and flying a plane after skipping the mandatory medical screening eluded many at the time. The Indian Pilots Association even filed a writ petition with the Delhi High Court, urging Air India to explain the circumstances under which such negligence had occurred. The Delhi Police also registered an FIR in the case that August.

This time, however, Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are conducting separate probes against Captain Kathpalia. He was removed on a directive from Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu.
While the action against the senior pilot is a reaffirming step, it comes a little late in the day. He has a series of misdemeanours to his name, highlighting the nexus that allegedly enables dubious practices in national air carriers as well as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). While short-circuiting mandatory medical check-ups is one such issue, there have also been allegations of sexual harassment against Captain Kathpalia that sources say were covered up by the pilot and his friends at Air India.
14/11/18 Alisha Sachdeva/NDTV
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