In the recent controversy regarding Air India’s senior pilot A Kathpala over the breath analyser (BA) test, the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended him for 3 months. The senior pilot has been accused of evading the mandatory breath test which is conducted by the government’s regulatory body for civil aviation. Earlier on February 10, the DGCA directed a panel of 3 doctors of Air India to carry out an inquiry against Kathpala for failing to take test either before or after operating a domestic flight on January 19 – the regulator said, “In an order, the regulator said that in public interest, “the privileges of the pilot licence held by Captain A K Kathpalia ATPL No.1330” is being suspended for three months.
The suspension would be effective from February 7 – the day when he was taken off from flying duties by the airline after directions from the DGCA. The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) in which it had accused Kathpalia of having evaded pre-flight medical test on several occasions.
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As per reports by Hindustan Times, the DGCA had sent an email to Air India chairman to take off Arvind Kathpala off duty with immediate effect. Apart from this, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has sent a legal notice to DGCA for not taking actions against pilots violating the Breath Analyser (BA) test.
The BA test is conducted to ensure that the pilots are not drunk before entering the cockpits, reports ANI. Continuous inaction by DGCA in such violation cases may atract both civil and criminal liability on the part of those concerned. If the BA test is failed once, the pilot is suspended for 3 months. However, if the test gets failed twice, the pilot is suspended for 2 years. And if thrice, he loses his licence.
According to a DGCA research, 10% pilots and crew fail the mandatory BA test. In the year 2016, 224 pilots and crew failed this test while it was 202 in 2015. As of 2016, 422 violations were reported in all, of which the BA test failure crossed 50%.