The aviation watchdog on Wednesday asked the national carrier, Air India, to bench a senior pilot for skipping the mandatory medical test before flying from Mumbai to Bhubaneshwar on April 18. The senior pilot, captain MP Sharma, is the general manager of operations with the airline.
Airline sources claimed said that captain Sharma refused to undergo the medical test before boarding the flight at 10am from Mumbai. But later, he allegedly threatened the airline doctor to make an entry in the register.
To crack down on crew reporting drunk on duty, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has recently made pre-medical checks mandatory for airline crew operating domestic flights. According to the rule, skipping would amount to being caught drunk.
The Air India spokesperson said: “We will look into the matter and take appropriate action.” However, when HT spoke to captain Sharma he denied the charge. “It is a rumour. We are in the process of seeking clarification from the DGCA.” Despite several attempts, DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan remained unavailable for comment.
The regulator has taken action against 57 pilots for flying when drunk in 2010 and terminated 10 of them. Of the 10 cockpit crew whose services were terminated for having been found under intoxication in a pre-flight test, four belonged to low cost carrier Spicejet and three each were from Indigo Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines.
According to the DGCA’s revised rule on drunken pilots, captain Sharma is also likely to lose his seniority.