Air India suspends licence of pilot who failed alcohol test before take off

The licence of Air India pilot, who was found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol count shortly before he was scheduled to fly, has been suspended for three months on Monday

india Updated: Nov 12, 2018 23:52 IST
Faizan Haider
Faizan Haider
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air India,License of Air India pilot,alcohol test
The licence of Air India pilot, found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol count shortly before he was scheduled to fly, has been suspended for three months .(REUTERS)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday suspended for three years the flying licence of Air India operations director Arvind Kathpalia, a day after he was found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol count shortly before he was scheduled to pilot a flight to London from New Delhi.

Kathpalia, 56, was grounded by the airline on Sunday after he tested alcohol positive twice during as many breath analyser tests performed on him. In August, he had failed a similar alcohol test.

“In exercise of the power delegated under clause (a) of sub-rule (3) of rule 19 of the Aircraft Rules 1937... the undersigned hereby suspends in public interest the privileges of the pilots licence held by Capt A Kathpalia for a period of three years from Nov 11, 2018,” DGCA joint director general JS Rawat said in an order.

An airline official familiar with the matter said the London-bound AI 111, scheduled to depart at 2:45 pm, was delayed after Kathpalia failed the test.

As per the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the level of blood alcohol compatible (BAC) with safe flying is ‘zero’. Kathpalia was declared unfit to fly as he had 007% BAC. The airline got the test results at 1:30 pm, a little over an hour before flight’s scheduled departure, and had to get another pilot for the Boeing 787.

The prescribed punishment for such offences under the DGCA rules is suspension of flying licence for three months in case of first breach. For violating the norms for a second time, the licence is suspended for three years and for a third time, the licence is permanently cancelled.

The civil aviation ministry, in tweet said: “HMCA @sureshpprabhu has viewed this incident... and already directed earlier that there will be zero tolerance on safety thus now has asked #DGCA to take action as per rules immediately, they are awaiting report from Air India, action will be taken ASAP.”

On January 19 last year, Kathpalia had commandeered a Delhi-Bengaluru flight AI 174 without going through the mandatory breathalyser test. He did not take the test after landing at Bengaluru either despite being reminded about it.

With PTI inputs

First Published: Nov 12, 2018 12:34 IST