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Air India Pilot Arvind Kathpalia Who Was Caught Drunk Before Flight Sacked From Top Post

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) had on Monday suspended license of the pilot for three years.


Updated:November 13, 2018, 6:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Air India on Tuesday sacked Captain Arvind Kathpalia as its Director of Operations after he failed the alcohol test before a scheduled international flight on Sunday. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) had on Monday suspended his license for three years.

On Sunday, the airlines had grounded Kathpalia found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol content shortly before his flight from London to New Delhi. This was the second instance of the senior pilot failing the breathalyzer test.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu also asked the national carrier to relieve him of the top post immediately.

Earlier, chief of operations Kathpalia's flying licence was suspended in 2017 for three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for allegedly skipping the breath analyser test before a flight. He was subsequently removed from the post of executive director, operations, but was appointed to the post again later.

The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) had demanded the immediate termination of Kathpalia from the national carrier's board calling him a "repeat offender" who endangers passengers’ lives. In a letter to the Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, the ICPA said Kathpalia continuing in the top post was "demoralising" for the cadres.

"The flight was delayed and the passengers were left stranded. Kindly note this is a repeat offence. The said incident resulted in extremely bad publicity to the national carrier," the ICPA said.

A senior officer said, "Being detected 'BA positive', the privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years as per the provisions of applicable regulations." The suspension is effective from November 11, he added.

Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules prohibits crew members from partaking any alcoholic drink 12 hours prior to the commencement of a flight, and it is mandatory for him/her to undergo an alcohol test both before and after operating a flight.

The prescribed punishment for such offences under the DGCA rules is suspension of flying licence for three months in case of first breach. For violating the norms for a second time, the licence is suspended for three years and for a third time, the licence is permanently cancelled.

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