Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday suspended the flying licence of Air India Operations Director Arvind Kathpalia for three years following his failure to clear the mandatory pre-flight breath analyser test.
On Sunday, Kathpalia, who is also an AI board member, was grounded by the airline after he tested alcohol positive twice during as many breath analyser tests performed on him before he was to operate Air India's New Delhi-London flight.
"In exercise of the power delegated under clause (a) of sub-rule (3) of rule 19 of the Aircraft Rules 1937... the undersigned hereby suspends in public interest the privileges of the pilots licence held by Capt A Kathpalia for a period of three years from Nov 11, 2018," DGCA joint director general J S Rawat said in an order in New Delhi.
The suspension of Kathpalia's flying licence is effective from the date on which he was tested BA (breath analyser) positive, the order stated.
Repeated calls and text messages to Air India chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola on the issue did not yield a response. Air India spokesperson was also not available for comments.
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.
This is the second time Kathpalia has been taken off flying duties as in February 2017 DGCA suspended his licence for three months for skipping the BA test before a flight when he was working as an executive director for operations with the airline.
He was subsequently removed from the post of executive director, operations.
Later, in March the government appointed him to the post of Director for Operations.
Significantly, as many as 132 pilots and 434 cabin crew of AI were found to have allegedly skipped both the pre- and post-flight alcohol tests last year, forcing the then airline CMD Rajiv Bansal to request the regulator to take a 'lenient view' on the issue, maintaining they (the crew members) never intended to violate norms. -- PTI