Air India Pilot Sacked From Top Post, After Failing Alcohol Test

Air India Pilot Sacked From Top Post, After Failing  Alcohol Test

Air India Pilot Sacked From Top Post, After Failing  Alcohol Test 

New Delhi: Captain Arvind Kathpalia, a Senior Air India pilot  has been sacked from the position of Director of Operations, a day after he was barred from flying for at least three years after failing an alcohol test before a scheduled international flight.

Earlier today, the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) had demanded Captain Kathpalia's immediate termination because he was a "repeat offender who endangers the lives of passengers". Suresh Prabhu, the Union Civil Aviation Minister  also asked the national carrier to relieve him immediately, said the sources.

The senior Air India Captain was found to have unacceptably high blood alcohol content shortly before his flight from New Delhi to London on Sunday. This was the second instance of the senior pilot failing the breathalyzer test. He was grounded for three months for skipping the test before a flight, in January 2017.


The ICPA, in it's letter to Mr Prabhu said that the senior pilot's continuance in the top post amounted to setting a bad example for other cadre members. "The flight was delayed and passengers were left stranded because of Captain Kathpalia failing the pre-flight test," association general secretary T Praveen Keerthi signed off the letter and added: "Kindly note that this is a repeat offence. The said incident resulted in extremely bad publicity to the national carrier... He has repeatedly tarnished the image of Air India and we request his immediate termination from the board."

According to the rules prescribed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, it has been prohibited for the crew members to consume any alcoholic drink 12 hours prior to the commencement of a flight, and mandate alcohol tests before and after each trip.

The ICPA, in it's letter also pointed out that an inquiry against Captain Kathpalia in connection with operating flights AI-174 and AI-173 without undergoing breathalyzer tests was still pending as of January 19, 2017. "The Delhi High Court has ordered a disciplinary inquiry into the conduct of Captain A Kathpalia with regard to making an entry in the pre-flight medical examination register and ante-dating the same and to take appropriate action in accordance with law... However, to our knowledge, the inquiry is still pending till date," the ICPA letter said.

"While pilots in Air India are charge-sheeted for skipping the breath-analysis test, the company refused to charge-sheet Captain Kathpalia so as to facilitate his promotion as a board member," it alleged.

The Air India has been surrounded by a lot of controversies lately. Another Boeing Dreamliner - AI-332 - took off for Bangkok from New Delhi only to be called back after it was found that the co-pilot missed his mandatory pre-flight breathalyzer test. The pilot has been grounded for three months, during which he will undergo a "refresher counselling session," according to airline sources.

After a delay of seven hours, the flight took off again at 8:40 pm.

(Inputs from news agency IANS)