The fear of being grounded seems to have made pilots and cabin crew personnel sober up.
None of the 333 flight crew personnel checked by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) air safety officials at Mumbai airport on December 25 were found to be under the influence of alcohol. Of these, 92 were pilots while the rest were flight attendants across 50 flights taking off and landing at the city airport, said sources in the DGCA.
Last year, the civil aviation ministry had amended rules to make the punishment severe for flight crew reporting drunk at work. According to the amendment, pilots caught for the first time would be grounded for three months while second-time offenders would lose their licence. "Until last year some flight crew personnel would report sick at the last minute to avoid the pre-flight medical checks. This year there were no such cases," said a DGCA official requesting anonymity. The DGCA is likely to conduct similar tests on New Year's Eve.
Between January 2009 and November 2010, 57 drunk pilots were detected in random pre-flight medical tests, according to former aviation minister Vayalar Ravi's statement to the Rajya Sabha in March. Of these, 11 lost their jobs while the rest were grounded for up to three months and faced temporary pay cuts.
The statement added that 23 of these pilots worked with Jet Airways and its low cost subsidiary JetLite. The others comprised IndiGo (11), Kingfisher (8), SpiceJet (7) and Air India (6) and GoAir (2).