In what could be the biggest action of its kind, aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has warned of grounding at least 130 pilots and over 430 crew members of Air India for allegedly avoiding the mandatory pre and post-flight alcohol tests, official sources indicated here on Tuesday.
Many of these crew and pilots have been habitually evading the breathalyzer (BA) tests, according to data collated by the DGCA over the past eight months on several international and domestic sectors.
However, an AI spokesperson said the airline was “in full compliance of all the DGCA norms”.
“On this present issue, the DGCA CAR indicated that all scheduled flights originating from destinations outside India, post-flight BA examinations of each flight and cabin crew to be carried on reaching India,” the spokesperson said, adding that this was interpreted by the AI as a requirement to carry out post-flight medical after completion of their flight which gets over at final destination and the airline was working with DGCA to comply with its directives.
According to the DGCA’s safety manual, all pilots and crew are required to undergo a mandatory breath analyser test confirming they have not consumed any alcohol at least 12 hours before a flight.
Apparently peeved over the regular violations of the safety protocols, the DGCA had issued an ultimatum to the Air India on the issue before stepping into the enforce it, though the severity of the proposed action is not clear.
As per indications, the grounding action is likely to be taken in phases as it could severely hamper the AI operations, and serve as a warning to potential violators.