The aviation regulator’s move to severely punish pilots caught drunk on duty is showing good results.
All the 400-odd pilots and flight attendants checked at four metro airports during the wee hours of Saturday cleared the post-New Year’s Eve alcohol test.
According to the new rule that came into effect last October, a pilot caught drunk on duty for the first time is grounded for three months. A second-time offender would be benched for two years and the pilot loses the license if he tests positive a third time. Earlier pilots were only suspended for a week.
The results of breathalyser tests conducted at Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai on January 1 indicate a significant improvement.
At least 10 pilots tested positive and about five skipped the test on January 1, 2008.
Civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi told the Hindustan Times that the changes to the rule for punishment for reporting drunk to work was making a difference. “It seems pilots no more want to risk their livelihood,” said Zaidi, who was heading the Directorate General of Civil Aviation when the rule was made stringent.
In addition to the stringent punishment, the DGCA has increased the frequency of pre-flight alcohol tests.
Such tests were earlier conducted only during the festive season.
The new rules make it mandatory for all Indian carriers such as Air India, Jet and Kingfisher, operating international flights to conduct 100% tests for all pilots before each flight.
The regulator had asked these airlines to take a doctor on their flight to do the test at foreign airports if they don't have their medical assistants there.