Don't Drink & Fly: Air India's Senior Pilot Under Scanner Again For Failing Alcohol Test
A senior Air India pilot, who has also flown former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, failed the mandatory breath analyser test which made the flight he was to fly, late by seven hours on November 10. Senior captain Arvind Kathpalia failed the mandatory breath analyser test before flying out and was deemed “unfit to fly.”
Passengers of the Air India flight AI 111 which was bound for London, were stranded in the airport for hours. He will be grounded for now, pending an enquiry. India Today reports that he is a repeat offender.
Alcohol test before and after flight mandatory
“We have grounded Captain A K Kathpalia as he failed twice in the breath analyser test. He was to operate the London flight from New Delhi, but he failed to clear the pre-flight alcohol test,” a senior airline official told news agency PTI. The official further said that he was given another chance, but he failed the second test too. The flight was scheduled to take off at 2:45 in the afternoon. It finally left at 8:40 in the evening.
While talking to NDTV, Captain Arvind said “A few minutes after the tests were completed and I was sitting for the pre-flight briefing in the next room, the doctor came and informed me that the test conducted in her presence was found positive. When asked why she didn’t tell me right then (earlier), she said something was wrong with the machine and it was taking time to register.” He has submitted his blood for testing with a private centre and the tests would conclude in 48 hours whether the allegations are true.
According to DGCA directives, if Captain Arvind is found guilty in the due process of enquiry, he would be banned from flying commercial jetliners for the next three years. Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules prohibits any cabin crew or pilots to consume alcohol 12 hours prior to flights. Hence, it is mandatory to undergo breath analyser test both before and after the flight.
According to India Today, this is not the first time Air India faced an issue with the senior captain. He was banned for flying for three months in 2017 after it was found that the captain missed out on a mandatory medical test before flying. India Today also reports that after the pilot was appointed as the Director of Aviation, a petition was filed against him in the Delhi High Court and he was subsequently removed from the post.
According to a complaint filed by the Indian Pilots Association, on January 19, 2017, the senior pilot was to operate a flight from New Delhi to Bengaluru. He apparently denied undergoing the pre-flight breath analyser test.
After landing at Bengaluru, he again denied the mandatory post-flight check. After going back to Delhi, he made a false entry in the examination room about the pre-flight test. He then coerced Dr Nitin Seth, DGCA’s doctor on duty, and asked him to withdraw his statement from the DGCA’s enquiry into the fake entry.
58 drunk pilots in Air India over the years
In August 2018, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha informed the Rajya Sabha that 132 pilots were found drunk in the last three years. The number of drunk pilots increased from 49 cases in 2015 to 61 in 2016 — a jump of 24 percent. 45 such incidents were recorded in 2017. Air India topped the list of drunk pilots in 2016 with 24 offenders.
The Logical Indian hopes that such a lapse in judgement of people upon whom so many souls are dependent is not repeated. Over the years, airlines have taken stringent action against drunk pilots but the problem continues unabated. Please, don’t drink and fly.