Wednesday, September 23, 2020

‘Testing multiple pilots with same breath analyser risky’

Two pilot unions have lodged complaints with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) demanding that its September 4 order for resuming breath analyser (BA) tests for air crew personnel be kept in abeyance, alleging that using the same instrument without disinfection could make them vulnerable to Covid-19. 
 The Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP), a pilot union with 5,400 members, along with Executive Pilots Association (EPA), a union of senior Air India pilots, have written letters to the regulator, pointing out “discriminatory” procedures laid down for air crew and Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs). In a September 7 order for ATCOs, DGCA mandated that at least five per cent of Air traffic Controllers at a station should undergo the BA test daily before commencing duty. 
The order said that the tests should be conducted as per the guidelines issued by Director General of Medical Services (DGMS) on June 16. “The machine used for such random tests shall not be used for next 12 hours after the conduct of one test. Besides the random test, the authorities may also test any person suspected to have consumed psychoactive substance,” the order said, mentioning the guidelines. However, pilots say the same condition was not mentioned in DGCA order asking pilots and cabin crew to resume BA tests. 
The order only mandated 10 per cent random pre-flight examinations for domestic operations, and 100 per cent BA tests for international operations per day. The FIP letter said the DGCA suspended BA tests for all aviation personnel on March 29 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when the total number of cases in India was approximately 1,000 cases. However, the number of cases have now crossed 5 million in India, and several crew members have tested positive in the past five months.
23/09/20 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror
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