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Eight tipsy pilots sacked last year: DGCA

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 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

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 2, 2010 - 16:30

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