Pilots in India can’t stop hitting the bottle before entering the cockpit—and the most frequent offenders in recent years are from Jet Airways and IndiGo, two airlines that dominate the country’s aviation market.
In 2015 alone, 43 pilots in the country tested positive for alcohol during pre-flight examinations. That’s the highest number in the last three years, according to data presented by the civil aviation ministry in parliament on May 05.
This year, so far, 13 pilots have turned up drunk to work.
Jet Airways, India’s second largest carrier, has had the maximum number of pilots reporting to work drunk. Since 2013, some 38 pilots at Jet Airways (including JetLite) have showed up to work under the influence. Jet was followed by IndiGo, where 25 pilots tested positive for alcohol.
The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) rules mandate (pdf) that pilots and cabin crew of all scheduled flights must be subjected to pre-flight breath-analyser examination. “For all scheduled flights originating from destinations outside India, post-flight breath-analyser examination of each flight crew and cabin crew shall be carried out on reaching in India,” the rules add.
In case of a violation, a pilot’s licence will be suspended for three months for a first time offence. For a second violation, the pilot’s license is suspended for three years. A third time offence leads to a cancellation of the pilot’s license.
“I am at loss for words,” an aviation expert told , requesting anonymity. “This is completely unacceptable behaviour and needs to be eliminated ruthlessly.”
“No normal office goer goes to work drunk, stating physical, mental or emotional fatigue,” he added. “Here, we are talking about someone who is responsible for human lives both in the aircraft and on the ground. A tiny error of judgement can cause irreparable damage.”
IndiGo, India’s largest airline by market share, explained that the company undertakes an alcohol dependency check after a pilot is suspended and, so far, has not found a single case of alcohol dependency. An IndiGo spokesperson added:
We have a education program for crew members, which highlights the issues on use of alcohol and drugs. The response to this program has been positive. Further, flight crew members before joining IndiGo undergo drug testing and during line operations the drug testing is carried out on a random basis. No crew has tested positive for any drug abuse during random checking.
First seen on Qz