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Air India pilot found drunk before flight

November 12, 2018

In a shocking incident that raised questions regarding the safety of air passengers in the country, a senior Air India pilot was found drunk just before a scheduled flight.

As per reports, Captain Arvind Kathpalia, failed a breath analyzer test, shortly before he was scheduled to command a Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane. The flight was to run between New Delhi and London at 2:45 pm yesterday.

Breath analyzer test or the breathalyzer test is a mandatory test done to check the alcohol content in a pilot's breath. Captain Arvind Kathpalia was tested just before the flight take off time and was found to have an unacceptably high alcohol content in his body.

The pilot will now be investigated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and may face a three-year ban from flying a plane.

Captain Arvind Kathpalia has denied the charges and has also given his blood for testing to a private agency, whose results will come in the next 48 hours. Captain Kathpalia is the Director of Operations at Air India and in the past has piloted planes for VIPs such as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

However, this is the second time that Captain Kathpalia has failed the breathalyzer test and found "not fit to fly". In 2017 he was banned from flying planes for 3 months after he was found to have alcohol in his body while on duty. An FIR was also filed against him but later he was cleared and promoted.

Aircraft rules prohibit crew members from consuming any alcoholic drink 12 hours before a flight. The alcohol tests are also performed before and after each trip.

A similar incident involving another Air India pilot also took place yesterday. A flight that took off for Bangkok from New Delhi had to be called back when it was discovered that the co-pilot had not taken his mandatory pre-flight breathalyzer test.

The said pilot has also been grounded and will not fly a plane for the next three months. The plane was delayed for seven hours and the passengers were kept waiting causing them grave inconvenience and anger.

The incidents became the talk of social media.

Arvind Mishra‏ @arvindmish tweeted,

Mixed emotions!Anger & disbelief@ the attitude of the pilot #Arvindkathpalia compromising flight safety, 2nd time in12 mths! Howe'r glad that #AirIndia could detect & ground him.@sureshpprabhu @MoCA_GoI must take strong action against the erring Pilots.

Many users called for strict actions against the pilots.

Itticheria Joshua‏ @Itti9 tweeted, "Dismiss him from service.... send a strong message to the others. Moreover this is the second time it seems he failed the test. There are enough unemployed pilots around #AirIndia #787Dreamliner #DrunkPilot"

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