Air India chief Rajiv Bansal has said the airline has requested the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to take a “lenient view” on more than 400 pilots and cabin crew who have come under the scanner for skipping breath analyser test, maintaining that they never intended to violate norms.
As many as 132 pilots and 434 cabin crew of the national carrier have been found by the DGCA to have allegedly skipped the compulsory pre-and post-flight alcohol tests this year. They face the prospect of being grounded and a final decision would be taken after discussions with the civil aviation ministry.
Air India and DGCA have discussed the issue. While apologising for the lapses, the airline has told the regulator that their actions were based on the interpretation of the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR). “There was no violation of breath analyser test at the last point for all the flights. We have sincerely apologised and assured the DGCA that we will carry out breath analyser tests as per their requirements and as per the clarity given on the CAR,” Bansal said.
Emphasising that it was never and will never be their intention to violate the rules, the chairman and managing director said the airline would ensure full compliance with all the requirements. Seeking to illustrate the possible sequence of events, Bansal said for instance, with respect to a flight that originated in Dubai, landed at Mumbai and then went on to Kolkata, the breath analyser test was conducted at Kolkata. “…DGCA says we should do it at the first point. We are in full agreement to what they are saying and when it was known to us, we have started testing it like that,” he noted.
“We have requested that they should take a lenient view on this matter,” he said, expressing hope that the regulator would take a “considered view”. An official said the issue has also been brought to the notice of the civil aviation ministry by the DGCA and a final decision would be taken after detailed discussions.
As part of the DGCA’s safety regulations, all pilots and cabin crew must undergo the breath analyser test before and after flights. Any crew member who tests positive in the pre-flight medical check or refuses to take a breath analyser test is required to be taken off flying duty for at least four weeks and the airline is required to initiate disciplinary proceedings, according to civil aviation rules.