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Tests to catch tipsy pilots this festive season

delhi Updated: Dec 10, 2012 23:54 IST
Faizan Haider
Faizan Haider
Hindustan Times
Faizan Haider

Pilots, don’t party too hard this festive season.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will test pilots at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for being too drunk to fly after Christmas and New Year parties.

Pilots and other crew members are not allowed to drink 12 hours before operating aeroplanes. Alco-Sensor IV test conducted before departure can tell whether a person has consumed alcohol.

"The pilot or cabin crew cannot operate the flight if they have taken any alcoholic drink, sedative, narcotic or stimulant drug within 12 hours of the commencement of the flight," says a DGCA rule in the regard.

Last year, several pilots and cabin crew members had skipped the test by reporting late. They were subsequently issued notices by the DGCA.

As they reported late for duty, they were sent directly to the aircraft to avoid any delay in take-offs. "Teams have been formed to conduct surprise checks in the morning from December 25 to January 1. Those caught drunk will lose their licences for three months and those coming late will have to respond to the showcause notice," a senior DGCA official said.

According to the DGCA, as many as 57 pilots were caught drunk during random checks between January 2009 and November 2010. In the first three months of this year, 14 pilots and 31 cabin crew members failed the breath analyser test.

The surprise checks have been planned at other metro airports too, including Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, from 5am to 10am. "If a pilot is tested positive, another test will be done and then he will be grounded. Strict action in the past have brought down the number of tipsy pilots," the officer added.

Apart from pilots, cabin crew members of various domestic and international airlines will also be checked. Sources said that to avoid checking, the airline staff started reporting late and straight away rush to the plane so that the flight doesn't get delayed. In that case, the checking is done at the destination but it is of no use.

Last year, the DGCA had made some amendments in existing rules. According to the new rule, if pilots or members of the cabin crew are found drunk before a flight — and are second-time offenders — their licences will be cancelled for five years.

The first offences will mean suspension of the licences for three months.