Pilots and cabin crew of domestic airlines who suffer from hypertension would be grounded till their blood pressure is found satisfactory, according to the latest circular of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Although authorities conduct health checkup of pilots and cabin crew every six months, now the DGCA has specified that anyone found with high blood pressure will be grounded.
The upper limit for blood pressure has been fixed at 140/90, stricter than the limit prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration of US.
DGCA officials said there was a need to fix the blood pressure limit, as it could be fatal for the passengers if a pilot falls sick, especially during landing when the chances are high. “The work of cabin crew and especially of pilots is highly stressful. It has been seen that the level of BP and heart rate goes considerably high during aircraft landing,” said a senior official. “And if the pilot falls sick, it could be very dangerous.”
The official, however, said the pilots need to be strictly monitored. “We have found that pilots usually control BP a month before the half-yearly review and usually neglect their health for the next five months,” he said.
Although it could lead to more shortage of senior pilots, airlines have welcomed the move. “DGCA’s first concern is safety and that is the basis of the guideline. All arrangements we have to make are secondary,” said Air India spokesman Jitender Bhargava.