Air India pilot fails alcohol test twice, DGCA wants 'strict' action including termination

New Delhi: Aviation regulator DGCA on Monday asked Air India to take strict action, which may include termination from service, against a pilot who failed pre-flight alcohol test twice, the latest being on Saturday when he was off duty but was scheduled to travel in the cockpit of a plane as an additional crew member.

Previously, Captain Ajit Singh failed a pre-flight alcohol test on October 21, 2015, when he was scheduled to operate AI-660 from the Goa airport. The DGCA had then suspended his licence for three months, as per the rule.

On Saturday, Singh was not on duty but was scheduled to travel in the cockpit of flight AI-502 from Delhi to Bengaluru as an Additional Crew Member (ACM). However, the DGCA stated in the order Monday that he "was tested positive in pre-flight breath-analyzer (BA) test".

According to sources, the national carrier has already suspended Singh for three months over Saturday's incident.

"Though in the instant manner, he was neither designated as Crew nor as Other Crew Member but being ACM (Additional Crew Member), he should have maintained the highest standards, which are required to be maintained as per the Operations Manual of the company," the DGCA said Monday in its order.

It added that such misconduct "reflects that he (the pilot) has not learnt anything from his previous violation and has not reformed himself" even though his licence was suspended for three months for the first violation.

"Such casual approach is unbecoming of an aviation professional and thus is a threat to safety in aviation," said the regulator.

"In view of his unsafe conduct, Air India shall initiate appropriate administrative action against him including that of termination from service for violation of provisions of Company Operation Manual," the DGCA stated in its order.

In another order, the DGCA barred off-duty airline officials - which includes pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) - from travelling in the cockpit "even when they are on leave or have not been assigned any duty whatsover".

It stated that this practice is in violation of Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) of 1997 and also "provides cover to officials who are authorised to travel in cockpit while on leave or off-duty and detected BA (breath-analyzer) positive".

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