9 pilots and 32 cabin crew members failed their pre-flight alcohol tests between January 1 and April 30, India’s aviation regulator DGCA said on Tuesday, May 10.
“Of them, two pilots and two cabin-crew members have been suspended for three years for being positive for the second time,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.
The remaining 7 pilots and 30 cabin crew members were suspended for three months as they tested BA (breathalyser) positive for the first time, it added.
According to the DGCA, 4 pilots and 10 cabin-crew members of IndiGo, one pilot and five cabin-crew members of Go First, one pilot and six cabin-crew members of SpiceJet, one pilot of Air India Express and four cabin-crew members of AirAsia India failed the pre-flight alcohol tests in the said period.
One pilot and two cabin crew members of Vistara, one pilot of Alliance Air and five cabin crew members of Air India also failed the test, the aviation regulator said.
The DGCA had stated in April that airlines must ensure that 50% of their cockpit and cabin crew members are subjected to pre-flight alcohol tests daily.
Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all crew members were required to undergo pre-flight alcohol tests.
When the pandemic struck, the tests were suspended for a couple of months. Subsequently, the tests were resumed but for only a small percentage of crew members.
“DGCA strictly enforced the requirements on the Breath Analyzer testing of the crew for the consumption of the alcohol even during the prevailing pandemic conditions. During the period of four months commencing from January 1, the DGCA has carried out 48 enforcement actions for violations of various requirements of the regulation regarding testing of the crew for the consumption of alcohol.
During this period, nine pilots and 32 cabin crew were found BA positive. Out of these, two pilots and two cabin crew have been suspended for a period of three years for bring positive for the second time. The remaining 37 crew members were suspended for a period of three months for being tested BA positive for the first time.”DGCA
In addition to the action taken against the 41 crew members (nine pilots and 32 cabin crew members), the DGCA has also acted against seven crew members for “missing BA tests or not furnishing the declaration”.
The regulator last year has levied a financial penalty on two pilot training schools for irregular maintenance of breath analyser equipment. This is the first time the regulator has levied a financial penalty on any aviation entity.
Aviation regulators like DGCA and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have got penalising powers after the Aircraft Amendment Bill was approved by both houses of the parliament last year.