All aircraft personnel, including pilots and cabin crew members, will have to undergo a breath analyser test from October 15 onwards, with the DGCA lifting the related curbs that were in place due to the pandemic. Amid the pandemic, the breath analyser test that is done to check whether any crew member has consumed alcohol was limited to 50 percent of the aircraft personnel.
Further, following an order passed by the Delhi High Court in May 2021, the number of breath analyser tests that can be conducted in one hour was limited to six. The curbs have now been done away with by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after the court modified its order passed in May 2021.
With the latest changes, all flight and cabin crew members will be subject to the breath analyser test effective from October 15, according to a DGCA order. In view of reducing the number of coronavirus cases and the increase in the volume of air traffic as well as the dispensation granted by the court, the DGCA said the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) related breath analyser test for aircraft personnel has been restored.
As part of precautions, the regulator said breath analyser test to the extent feasible should be done in a bigger and open area that has CCTV coverage or camera recording. Doctors, paramedics, and nurses, among others, who are authorised to carry out the test should check the person first for symptoms of coronavirus infection.
“If any person is detected with COVID-19 symptoms, the person shall be exempted from BA (Breath Analyser) test and be removed from duty. “Such person shall undergo the required examination and shall return to duty only after having been declared fit. Records are to be maintained for all such cases," the DGCA said.
The regulator also said that such cases should not be treated as missed breath analyser cases. Besides, the person carrying out the test should take a rapid antigen test or any other approved test for COVID-19 prior to joining the duty for the test.
All breath analyser equipment should be sanitised using UV sterilisers, and the integrity, as well as sanitary condition of the breath analyser test tubes/ mouth pieces, should be maintained, as per DGCA. The conditions of limiting the number of tests to six per hour and the requirement for wearing a PPE kit by the medical staff involved in the conduct of the test have been removed.
The restoration of the breath analyser norms will be effective from October 15 as time has been given for airlines and other entities concerned to put in place necessary arrangements for the tests. The DGCA has restored CAR pertaining to procedures for medical examination of aircraft personnel for alcohol consumption.