In the last two and a half years, 60 pilots and 150 cabin crew members tested positive following a breath analyzer (BA) test. Breath Analyzer tests are performed to ensure that aviation safety is not jeopardised as a result of alcohol consumption by pilots and cabin crew. According to Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section-5, Series-F, Part-III, no licence was cancelled between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022. However, 210 pilots and crew members have been suspended in total.
According to a Parliament response issued on Thursday, there is a systematic safety oversight process in place to monitor airlines’ compliance with Rules and Civil Aviation Requirements. ‘ This is a continuous process that includes surveillance, spot checks, and regulatory audits as outlined in the DGCA’s Annual Surveillance Plan (ASP). The findings of safety oversight exercises are followed up on with the relevant operator to ensure compliance, and the observations are closed only after thorough verification’, said the reply.
The operator’s compliance with the action taken is verified during the next audit and surveillance. The DGCA imposes enforcement action, including financial penalties, when violations or noncompliance with regulations are discovered during audit and surveillance. The DGCA previously stated in its guidelines that airlines must ensure that 50% of their cockpit and cabin crew members are subjected to daily preflight alcohol tests.
According to the DGCA, even if blood alcohol levels remained zero 12 hours after a drink, there could be a decrease in performance. ‘Alcohol in the body, even in small amounts, jeopardises flight safety on several counts and is likely to affect an aviator well into the hangover period.’