The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) barred off-duty airline officials, including pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs), from travelling in the cockpit “even when they are on leave or have not been assigned any duty whatsoever”.
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-analyser) positive”.
The move comes in the wake of an Air India pilot testing BA positive ahead of a flight from Delhi to Bengaluru on Saturday in which he was scheduled to travel in the cockpit as an additional crew member. The said pilot had tested BA positive back in 2015, too, and in view of this, the regulator has told the national airline that it should “initiate appropriate administrative action against him including that of termination from service for violation of provisions of company operations manual”. In the order prohibiting off-duty officials from travelling in the cockpit, the aviation safety regulator pointed out that Part-A of the Operations Manual of airlines permit travel of officials in cockpit even when they are on leave or have not been assigned any duty. However, this practice is in violation of the aeronautical information circular.
In its order, the DGCA has asked the airlines to amend their operations manual to comply with the AIC, and submit their amended manuals to the regulator for its approval.
Meanwhile, the DGCA has also suspended for six months the flying licence of another Air India pilot for being involved in a “heated argument” and “physical altercation” with a cabin crew member in the aircraft before it was about to take off. The incident took place on June 17 when the flight was to take off from Bengaluru to Kolkata. Upon probe, the regulator sent a show-cause notice to the pilot with a 15-day time period to respond. However, the pilot’s response was not found to be satisfactory by the regulator and that led to the suspension of his flying rights, a government official said.