Monday, September 27, 2021

Random dope tests on flight crew, air traffic controllers & other aviation personnel from January 31: DGCA

New Delhi: In a first for India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday issued rules under which pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers (ATCOs) shall face dope tests on a random basis from January 31, 2022.

The new rule mandates that at least 10% of these personnel in an organisation should be tested annually.

"All scheduled commercial aircraft operators and air navigation service provider shall carryout, random drug testing for the consumption of psychoactive substance by flight crew members and ATCOs employed by them, respectively at the facilities established by them using the services of an appropriate laboratory. The medical personnel of the concerned organisation shall associate during this process. This programme shall ensure that at least 10% of the employees of an organisation," the order issued by DGCA chief Arun Kumar said.

The organisations have been asked to use a "scientifically valid method such as a random-number table or a computer-based random-number generator to select the employees for testing."

In adition, airlines, AAI (parent organisation for ATCOs) and flying schools "shall ensure that flight Crew member, air traffic control officers, aircraft maintenance engineers/ certifying staff, trainee pilots and Instructors/examiners in their employment are tested for consumption of psychoactive substances on the following occasions:

a) Before employing a person;

b) Before admitting a trainee pilot in a FTO;

c) Follow-Up testing of confirmed cases;

d) At first available opportunity, in case an aviation personnel has refused drug test to a foreign regulator during flight operation to that country/duty in that country."

All the positive cases have to be reported to the DGCA within 24 hours of detection. A confirmation test will need to be done on those who test positive.

The action on positive cases will begin with taking that person off duty immediately till a confirmatory report is received.

"In case of positive confirmatory test for the first time, the concerned employee shall be referred by the organization to a Specialist Doctor/ Counsellor/de-addiction center for de-addiction/rehabilitation programme as applicable, in consultation with MRO. Such an employee shall return to active duties after again having undergone the tests for the consumption of the psychoactive substance with a negative test report. In addition fitness certificate by the Medical In Charge of the concerned organization shall be required."

"In case a person who has returned to safety sensitive duties after having been tested positive as in para 8.2 and is again found positive in the confirmatory test i.e. the second occasion, license of such person shall be suspended for period of three years and for third positive occasion, the license shall be cancelled."

"In the event, if a person refuses to undergo the examination, such a person shall be removed from the safety sensitive duties until such a person clears drug testing profile as listed in para 5 within a period of 48 hours at the organisation facility. Failing which, the license of the involved person shall be suspended for a period of one year and the involved person shall undergo rehabilitation process before return to active duty," it said.

27/09/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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