A pilot comes drunk for a flight, gets caught and suspended by the aviation regulator. But the airline for which he flies — Air India — thinks it’s not too serious an offence and takes no action. The incident took place on February 3 but the pilot, Captain KS Joseph, continues to function as a deputy general manager, handling the crucial portfolio of pilot scheduling for the national carrier's entire southern region.
Joseph’s blood alcohol level was alarmingly high — at 0.91 mg — when he was going to take control of an aircraft with around 200 people on board.
The case highlights the attitude of airlines when it comes to passenger safety.
“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has to realise the difference between a violation and a willful disregard for safety regulations. A pilot coming for a flight with 0.91 mg of blood alcohol level has committed a criminal offence. If they want to prevent a repeat, the only way they can stop these violations is by cancelling the licence. A criminal offence is not a mere violation," said aviation safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan.
Ironically, Joseph was also an examiner - the highest grade for a pilot. Air India did not respond to emails and text message from HT.
"Whenever cabin crew members are caught positive in the pre-flight alcohol test they are suspended followed by punishments like commutation of increments etc.
But in the case of a man entrusted with the control of an aircraft and the lives of the passengers, no action has been taken by the management," a top official said.