DGCA tells airlines to film crew breath analyser tests

Directorate General of Civil Aviation has instructed all airlines to video record pre-flight breath analyser tests of their pilots and crew. The directions were issued last month after an instance of pilot evading the test came to light.

DGCA rules make it mandatory for pilots and cabin crew to undergo breathanalyser tests for all base departures. Pilots and crew undergo check upon arrival in case of an international flight. Pilots and crew who test positive for alcohol are suspended for three months for the first offence. If found positive for second time a pilot or crew is suspended for three years.

A source said directions for video recording were given to ensure that procedures are not being flouted. The recording can be viewed by the airline flight safety department or the DGCA for surveillance.

DGCA swung into action after a pilot from a private airline forced his airline colleague to do a breath analyser test at Delhi airport to avoid being caught a second time. The doctor complained and the pilot was suspended. 

In another instance, a doctor at Mumbai airport forged an entry in the register to show test was carried out on a pilot on New Year’s Eve. DGCA which was carrying out check that night detected the violation.

“We have started the process of recording the breath analyser tests on camera from Wednesday at 10 airport terminals. We are expecting to cover the remaining 4 smaller stations in a couple of days time,” said Dr Saranyaa Mohanraj, chief medical officer of SpiceJet.

IndiGo said it is awaiting instructions from DGCA in this regard. Other airlines did not respond to email query on the topic.

Last month, the DGCA also issued notices to 30 Air India pilots for reporting late for flights. The regulator said they did not follow regulations and the airline’s operation manual on reporting time, adding that was tantamount to a violating safety. Pilots, however, had complained that DGCA was overstepping its mandate by issuing notices.