Aiming to clarify the rules pertaining to mandatory breath analyser tests for flight crews, which led to a debate recently with Air India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come out with draft amendments to the civil aviation requirements which propose that “each flight crew member and cabin crew member shall be subjected to pre-flight breath-analyzer examination at first departure airport during a flight duty period”.
The draft norms also propose to stipulate pilots and crew members undergoing alcohol tests at transit airports in case they enter the terminal building during flight duty.
Through these amendments, the aviation regulator also aims to make the rules stringent for repeat offenders. The rules propose that repeated violation of breath analyser test norms could result in suspension of the pilot’s licence for up to four years, subject to certain conditions. Currently, the period of punishment for the violations varies from three months to cancellation of pilot licence or grounding of cabin crew. The draft has also proposed combining the violation of pre-flight and post-flight violations. If a crew member tests positive during pre-flight test or evades it; and later, evades a post-flight test, the individual would face suspension for three years.
Furthermore, in case of failure to take alcohol tests, the new rules will not only hold the crew members responsible, but also puts the onus on airline management to ensure that the norms are followed. “If a crew member operates a flight without undergoing the pre-flight breath analyser examination, the Chief of Operations of the concerned airline shall ensure that the involved crew member is off-rostered at the first point of landing and same is reported to DGCA as per the CAR provisions,” the proposed rules said.
Last month, as many as 132 pilots and 434 cabin crew members of Air India had come under DGCA’s scanner for allegedly skipping breath analyser tests in certain cases. The country’s flag-carrier, while apologised for the lapses, had also pointed out to the DGCA that that the processes were followed on basis of the airline’s interpretation of the rules.
“There was no violation of breath analyser test at the last point for all the flights. We have sincerely apologised and assured the DGCA that we will carry out breath analyser tests as per their requirements and as per the clarity given on the CAR,” Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal had said.