A senior Air India pilot accused of evading pre-flight breath checks over the past 15 days will face a four-member panel set up by the airline’s flight safety department. The committee was set up hours after an AI pilots’ union told India’s air safety regulator that an executive-rank pilot was skipping the check, which is mandatory before operating a flight. The Hindustan Times reported this on January 31.
“We have received intimation that a senior executive pilot has evaded the pre-flight medical tests in the past 15 days at the Delhi airport. This information has already been submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and therefore it is required that this is investigated at the earliest,” read a note put out by the AI flight safety department. The AI spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls. HT has a copy of the note.
It added that the four-member team comprised managers from the airline’s flight safety and service departments.
Earlier, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), the airline’s 800-member strong pilots’ union had told the DGCA that closed-circuit television camera footage from AI’s facility for pre-flight checks in the capital and the airline medical records could prove the safety lapse.
Such checks were introduced so that drunk pilots are grounded before entering the cockpit.
Last year, HT had reported that at least one pilot tested positive for alcohol every two days between January and June in 2016.
The DGCA data stated that such safety lapses almost tripled from 69 cases in 2011 to 186 in 2015. The AI spokesperson did not answer HT’s calls.
While first-time offenders are benched for three months, those testing positive for alcohol for a subsequent time would not be allowed to fly for three years, according to the DGCA rule on this issue. The tenure for such offenders was reduced from five years after the regulator discovered that India has a chronic shortage of commanders. Third- time offenders are grounded for good.