Three days after two pilots of low-cost carrier SpiceJet tested positive for alcohol, the airline sacked one of them, an expat, on Wednesday.
Hindustan Times had, on March 24, reported how the airline grounded the two pilots — one in Delhi and the other in Mumbai — found drunk a few minutes before reporting to work.
While the airline terminated the service of the expat pilot, an American, it is yet to take any action against the other, Bavesh Mishra. Mishra is a senior pilot who works as an examiner and the deputy chief of air safety. Both the pilots were caught during a random test conducted by the airline.
When asked if the airline will take action against Mishra, the spokesperson for the airline refused to comment.
Usually, pilots caught drunk at work are grounded from flight duty for 2-3 months and let off. Repeat offenders are barred from flying.
Earlier this year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the regulatory body for air travel, had asked airlines to increase the frequency of random breath analyser checks for pilots.
“We have asked them to increase the frequency of random checks to keep people on their toes,” said a DGCA official requesting anonymity. Earlier only the regulator conducted these surprise checks. “Since January this year we have found increased cases of pilots evading breathe analyser tests,” the official added.
The decision was taken in the wake of increased stress among pilots post the downturn in the Indian aviation sector last year. “Pilots have been facing increased stress fearing pay cuts since October 2008. In such times they often take to drinking,” said a doctor conducting medical tests for pilots, recognised by the DGCA.