Friday, September 06, 2019

2 Air India pilots on Haj flight skip booze test, suspended

New Delhi: Flying licences of two Air India captains operating a Haj charter from Ahmedabad to Medina have been suspended for skipping pre-flight breath analyser (BA) tests which are conducted to ensure that only perfectly sober crew operate flights. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken this action for AI 5731 operated this Monday. Crew members skipping this test are construed to have failed the same - meaning they are considered to be tipsy and are punished accordingly.
"…flight crew is required to undergo pre-flight medical examination for detection of consumption of alcohol… (Two pilots, both captains) belonging to AI missed pre-flight BA examination on September 2 at Ahmedabad and operated flight AI 5731 (Ahmedabad-Medina) which is (against rules)... hereby suspend in public interest the licence held by (both) for a period of three months from Wednesday (September 4), the date from which they were off-rostered from flying duties," says the order issued by DGCA on Thursday.
A senior DGCA official said the first six months of this year have seen 30 pilots and as many as 93 cabin crew fail the breath analyser test. All pilots operating domestic flights have to undergo pre-flight alcohol tests to ensure only sober ones get inside cockpits and then safely fly. On international flights, pilots have to undergo post-flight checks as liquor is available on board those flights. A pilot is grounded for three months, three years and forever after failing pre-flight BA test for the first, second and third time, respectively. Those failing the breath analyser tests in post-flight checks get a year added to these groundings.
Incidentally, alcohol is banned in both the origin and designation of this flight - Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Saudi Arabia. Airlines are not even allowed to serve liquor in Saudi airspace.
06/09/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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