The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered airlines to resume pre-flight alcohol tests for pilots and cabin crew members. The aviation regulator had on March 29 this year suspended breath analyser (BA) test for "all aviation personnel" like pilots, cabin crew members, ground handling staff and air traffic controllers due to the "extraordinary" circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and given the directions issued by the high courts in Delhi and Kerala.
"In partial modification of the DGCA order... dated 29.03.2020, this is to convey that the employer/organization shall ensure flight crew member and the cabin crew member shall undergo pre-flight BA test," said the regulator in an order dated September 4. This means breath analyser tests will continue to remain suspended for aviation personnel other than pilots and cabin crew members. In domestic flight operations, 10 per cent of pilots and crew members should undergo preflight BA test per day, the DGCA had said on Friday.
"For all international operations -- 100 per cent preflight BA examination shall be carried out per day," it said, adding that the other provisions contained in the March 29 DGCA order would continue to apply to every aviation personnel reporting for duty. The March 29 order had stated that every aviation personnel has to submit an undertaking that he or she is not under the influence of alcohol and that he or she has not "consumed alcohol/psychoactive substance in the last 12 hours from the time of reporting for duty".
The regulator had noted that if the undertaking submitted by the aviation personnel is violated, their license or approval would be suspended for three years. Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been operating in India under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements formed between India and other countries since July. Domestic flights resumed in India on May 25 after remaining suspended for two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.