Amid coronavirus scare, Air India pilots’ body seeks exemption from breath analyser test

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Published: March 11, 2020 1:44:44 PM

Under the Aircraft Rules, crew members are not allowed to consume alcohol 12 hours before the commencement of a flight.

IPG, which has around 600 members, represents pilots of Air India's wide-body planes. (Twitter image)IPG, which has around 600 members, represents pilots of Air India’s wide-body planes. (Twitter image)

An Air India pilots’ grouping has urged civil aviation regulator DGCA to exempt pilots from the mandatory pre and post-flight alcohol tests, amid the coronavirus scare. In a letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation chief Arun Kumar, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) said the virus is “highly dangerous” for the airline’s crew involved in international flight operations as it poses an “elevated risk” of exposure to the cockpit crew. IPG, which has around 600 members, represents pilots of Air India’s wide-body planes.

“The present outbreak of coronavirus is highly dangerous for our crew given the elevated risk of exposure involved in our global operations. “While this epidemic lasts, mass use of any equipment without proper sterilisation compounds the possibility of propagation of this deadly virus through any individual during the early incubation stages of the virus,” the IPG said in the letter dated March 10.

Under the Aircraft Rules, crew members are not allowed to consume alcohol 12 hours before the commencement of a flight. All flight crew are subjected to mandatory Breath Analyser (BA) tests prior to operating a flight as well as post the flight in case pre-flight test is not possible, according to the rules.

“In fact, recently, due cognizance was taken of this risk by your good office and communicated to all operators on February 7, 2020, under which crew operating out of Kerala were exempted from Breath Analysers,” the letter said. The IPG has requested that similar directions may kindly be issued to stop the BA test till the situation comes back to normal. “This will be both in the interest of the airline crew as well as the general public,” it added.

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