Three years ago, a flight purser with US carrier Jet Blue abused passengers on board a flight at the John F Kennedy airport, picked up a carton of beer and escaped using the emergency chutes.
A probe into the incident found that the cabin staff had a clinical disorder and alcohol abuse issues.
Although such extreme cases of mental disorder among cabin crew have not been reported in India, the aviation regulator is now planning to upgrade the medical requirement for flight attendants as a proactive measure towards fliers’ safety.
A draft proposal floated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday stated that its cabin crew personnel will have to satisfy several parameters before being termed fit for flying.
With the absence of a uniform medical test prescribed by the regulator, airlines select cabin staff independently, as long as they look presentable and weigh within permissible safety limits.
The proposed draft will test flight attendants’ physical fitness, sight, colour perception and hearing abilities.
Airlines might also have to dig into the medical history of candidates.
“The medical check should report whether a cabin staff is suffering from any congenital or chronic ailment,” said a senior DGCA official, requesting anonymity.
There have been stray cases of medically unfit crew disrupting flight movement in India In June, an Air India airhostess opened an auto-locked door of a Jeddahbound flight from Mumbai, when passengers became unruly. The flight was then held up for several hours.
Airline sources said that the woman was sleep-deprived owing to back-to-back long haul flights.
“Such cases can be avoided if the crew undergoes regular checks,” said an air safety expert, requesting anonymity.