Indian pilots flying high: Over 40 fail breath analyser test every year


  • In the last 4 years, 171 pilots were caught drunk
  • 57 pilots were held at Delhi airport and 43 at Mumbai airport
  • However, DGCA refused to divulge the names of the airlines the drunken pilots belong to

Pilots in India seem to be in a fix. For them, it is a flight-and-flight mode when it comes to flying an airplane with hundreds of passengers on board.

However, it has come to light that in the last 4 years, 171 pilots were caught drunk before taking off across airports in India and abroad. Furthermore, more than 40 pilots have been failing breath analyser test every year.

The alarming number of “high flying” pilots was revealed by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of Civil Aviation Ministry in response to a Right To Information (RTI) query filed by India Today.

The figures will make you nervous about booking the next flight.

Around 57 pilots were held at Delhi airport and 43 at Mumbai airport. While two pilots were found drunk at Dubai airport in 2016 and 2017, one failed the breath analyser test at Sharjah airport in 2015.

Pre-flight breath-analyser test is conducted on crew members before the departure of flights as a measure to determine the concentration of alcohol in the blood.

Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules states that crew members are not allowed to consume alcohol 12 hours before the commencement of a flight.

In response to India Today’s RTI on the action being taken against the drunken pilots, the DGCA said, “The privileges of pilot licence held by these pilots were suspended as per the proviso of the CAR Section-5, Series-F, Part-III”.

The DGCA rules state that when a cabin crew fails the breath analyser test for the first time, his or her licence gets suspended for three months. For a second violation, the licence is suspended for 3 years and is permanently cancelled in case of a third violation.

On inquiring about the names of the airlines that these pilots belonged to, the DGCA refused to divulge any names.

DGCA said, “The details of the airlines cannot be provided, as the information is exempted from disclosure under Para 8 Sub Para (1), (d) and (e) of the RTI Act 2005.”

However, surprisingly Air India did reveal the details of the pilots, who were caught drunk, in response to another RTI filed by India today.

As per the RTI, in the last eight years, 58 pilots of Air India have been caught drunk, right before they had to fly from various airports in the country.



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