Rather shocking! Specially in India where the aviation scenario is becoming hectic and the pilots are getting more and more stress day by day!
Before take-off, pilots and crew already on a high?
DELHI, APRIL 1
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is set to introduce stringent guidelines for pre-flight and post-flight alcohol testing for pilots and crew of airlines. It has reason to. Official records, available with The Sunday Express show: • Last year, 24 pilots and cabin crew members of Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Sahara tested positive when they were subjected to random alcometer tests minutes before they boarded their flights.
(Alcometer tests measure alcohol levels in the blood by analysing breath samples. As per existing norms, all pilots and cabin crew are expected not to consume alcohol 12 hours before boarding a flight and that if put through a alcometer test, should show a ‘‘zero’’ reading If the first reading is positive, a second reading is taken within 15 minutes after a mouthwash in the presence of a witness.)
• Crew members ‘‘de-rostered’’ or grounded last year for between three to six months (without salary) for testing positive include six pilots: three from Jet and one each from Sahara, Air India and Blue Dart.
• DGCA officials said Jet had the highest number of defaults since they probably conducted the maximum tests.
• In 2004, too, around 25 cabin crew members, including several pilots, were docked for testing positive.
• This year, five cases of default have already been reported: two crew members from Jet Air, one each from Air India, Sahara and Kingfisher Airlines.
Alcometer tests were begun in India after a 1974 Indian Airlines Avro crash which was attributed to the pilot being under the influence of alcohol.
This comes as the DGCA, after several rounds of consultations with airlines, fixed a minimum for 40% alchometer testing of all pilots and 25% testing of cabin crew. The DGCA had initially proposed a 100% testing formula. At present, officials estimate, air operators test barely 5-10% of their pilots and crew. The DGCA’s new rules are:
• Mandatory 40% daily alcometer testing of all pilots and 25% of all crew.
• Chartered flights, small private operators and helicopter services to be included.
• Failure to take second test after first positive result will be taken as a case of default.
• Suspension or cancellation of licence after post-flight alcometer tests.
When contacted, Air India’s Director, Public Relations, Jitender Bhargava said the airline conducted these tests fairly ‘‘regularly’’ and it was trying to increase the frequency of the tests.
He admitted, however, that the tests take up to 30 minutes and sometimes hold up flights. “Our suggestion, therefore, is to maybe do half the tests on arrival and half during departure. Whatever is done should not cause inconvenience to passengers or upset flight schedules,’’ Bhargava said.
Said A K Shivanandan, Jet spokesperson: “We are conducting the tests. If the new guidelines and regulations come, they will be implemented by Jet Airways.’’
Flying under the influence
Last year, these were some flights on which pilots and crew were booked for alcohol levels:
Jan 1: Mumbai-B’lore
Feb 13: Delhi-Srinagar
April 29: Kolkata-Delhi
June 15: Mumbai-Delhi
June 25: Delhi-Chennai
Aug 12: Delhi-Leh
Aug 18: Kolkata
Sept 5: Mumbai-Bangalore
Oct 8: Delhi-Pune
Aug 21: Mumbai-Singapore-Jakarta
Aug 27: Mumbai-Singapore-Jakarta
Oct 3: Delhi-Mumbai-Osaka-Hong Kong
Oct 14: Mumbai-Frankfurt-Los Angeles
Oct 19: Mumbai-Singapore-Jakarta
Oct 19: Mumbai-Hyderabad- Daman
Nov 13: Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai
Dec 20: Mumbai-Frankfurt-Los Angeles
July 5: Bangalore-Mumbai
Aug 10: Bangalore-Mumbai Kingfisher
Aug 20: Mumbai-Bangalore-Mumbai Blue dart
Sept 22: Chennai-Bangalore