An Air India pilot has been officially prohibited from flying for three years after failing an alcohol breathalyser test before a flight from New Delhi to London, Reuters reported.
The pilot, Arvind Kathpalia, is also reportedly in charge of safety at the airline as operations director. He disputes the claim that he was boozing on the job, and passionately argued that he would challenge the result of the alcohol test.
@airindiain @PMOIndia @narendramodi @MoCA_GoI #Airindia news again for wrong reasons. While clamour only increases fr sale and privatisation, let’s applaud n celebrate Air India medical services deptt for honestly highlighting this (if true!). Let’s see ‘Glass as half full too! pic.twitter.com/flsxjMpOKu— Jayaram Easwaran (@easyjay) November 12, 2018
"It was 1:30pm in the afternoon, only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1:30pm in the afternoon," he was quoted by Reuters News as saying.
"I am going to contest this," he added.
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The flight was held up by almost one hour after Kathpalia failed to pass two breathalyser tests and was subsequently designated unfit to fly the plane.
As it stands, Kathpalia's flying licence remains suspended.
Is @sureshpprabhu going to sack Dir of Operations Capt A K Kathpalia for breaking flying rules before he ends up killing hundreds of innocent passengers under his flight control or the lack of it? No doubt there were no takers for #AirIndia @MoCA_GoI @narendramodi @BJP4India— KARA MIRCH (@karamirch) November 12, 2018
"The privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years from 11.11.2018 as per the provisions of applicable regulations," a spokesperson at the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.
Indian aircraft rules prohibit cabin crew, especially pilots and co-pilots, from having an alcoholic drink 12 hours before a flight and it is obligatory for them to take an alcohol test before and after every trip.
If someone as senior as an Operations Director and Board Member has utter disregard (twice caught for failing breathanalyser test) for safety of his customers, I wonder what is he doing still earning a salary from you? @airindiain @jayantsinha #AirIndia pic.twitter.com/yzm9x6Qfwk— अज्ञान 🇮🇳 (@chappanTaare) November 12, 2018
According to India's NDTV, this is in fact the second time that Captain Kathpalia has failed a breathalyser test. In January 2017, he was allegedly grounded for three months for skipping a mandatory test before flying.
He has, however, reportedly dismissed the 2017 accusation as a "complete set-up."
Under DGCA rules, the standard punishment for first time violation — which includes either failing a test or skipping one — is three months, for second-time transgression it is three years, and a third time would result in permanent cancelation of a pilot's licence.