As per the latest guidelines all commercial airlines operating in the country alongside air navigation service providers will have to test a minimum of 10 percent of their employees every year in a random fashion.
In a measure aimed at stepping up vigil and safety for air passengers, the aviation regulator has ordered strict tests of all flight crew members and air traffic controllers for psychoactive substances. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered that all such personnel will be tested for cannabis and cocaine from January 31 next year, the Indian Express reported.
Rationale behind DGCA order
The regulator pointed at the spread of use of psychoactive substances worldwide, their easy availability and increase in addiction as the chief causes for issuing the latest order. Terming the developments “a serious concern to aviation safety”, the DGCA noted that the order was vital for the safe air travel in the country. In the year 2020, a few months prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the regulator had issued a set of guidelines to be followed for testing aircraft crew and air traffic controllers. A few weeks back, DGCA issued another set of guidelines in which it has put the onus of testing aircraft personnel on the airlines and air traffic service provider Airport Authority of India (AAI).
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How will psychoactive substance tests be conducted?
As per the latest guidelines all commercial airlines operating in the country alongside air navigation service providers will have to test a minimum of 10 percent of their employees every year in a random fashion. The test will also be mandatory in case an airline or flying training organisation is admitting a new employee or trainee pilot. The airlines have also been instructed to ascertain and identify the set of employees who have in the past refrained from getting tested when such tests were conducted by a foreign regulator. If any crew member or air traffic controller is found positive, the concerned airline will need to apprise the DGCA of the same within 24 hours.
What action will be taken against individuals found positive?
As per the guidelines such employees who have tested positive in the routine test conducted by the airline will be sent for rehabilitation compulsorily before being allowed to rejoin their duty. During the rehabilitation period, the employee will be removed from the operations of the aircraft or traffic controller. Post the rehabilitation session has concluded such employees will be subjected to the same test again and will be allowed to join back their duties if the report comes out to be negative.
Action against repeat offenders
If an employee is found positive in a drug test for the second consecutive time then his/her license will be cancelled for a period of three years, as per the latest guidelines issued by the DGCA. In case an employee is successful in validating his/her license after three years and again found positive for the third time in a row, the license will be permanently cancelled by the air travel regulator.