Eight tipsy pilots sacked last year: DGCA
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 02, 2010, 16:30
New Delhi: Only eight of the 42 pilots who were caught in a tipsy state while reporting to duty last year were terminated from service while the rest were either grounded or suspended for brief periods.

The details of the punishment meeted out to drunk pilots were disclosed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation without giving details of crew, airlines or flight number to which the pilots were supposed to report.

The data provided by DGCA shows that half of the drunk pilots, 21 of them, were detected at the Delhi airport followed by 11 from Mumbai and rest from other airports across the country.

The civil aviation regulator said eight of the pilots who reported for duty in a tipsy state were terminated while the rest were suspended or derostered for a brief period which ranged from 30 days to three months.

The data provided in reply to an RTI application by Abhishek Shukla says 28 of them are still flying while four have left their airlines. The DGCA did not give details of action taken against 16 pilots.

The DGCA is the regulatory body for civil aviation in India and is responsible for ensuring safety of operations.

Drunkenness among pilots directly impacts flight safety and aviation authorities around the world, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation, mandate a zero tolerance to alcohol as far as pilots and cabin crew are concerned.

Alcohol in the blood of pilot as well as cabin crew is a serious flight safety issue, experts say.

"The rules prescribe that there shall be no trace of the alcohol in the blood of the pilot and the cabin crew. Alcohol in the blood numbs the senses and dulls the reflexes and increases response time. The effect of alcohol is much more at high altitudes," former Director General Civil Aviation Kanu Gohain told a news agency.

Alcohol testing is mandatory for pilots and cabin crew but airlines which conduct the tests often take a lenient stand with erring pilots so as not to affect flight schedules, say aviation experts who requested anonymity.

The DGCA, therefore, conducts random surprise checks on pilots, pre-flight and post-flight, to ensure that the no-alcohol rule is not violated.

"The job requires high skills and presence of mind and there is a need for total honesty to ensure that cabin crew and cockpit crew is in best condition...but DGCA cannot be everywhere and test everone...We require some sort of honesty from airline managements," Gohain said.


First Published: Wednesday, June 02, 2010, 16:30

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