Air India senior Captain Arvind Kathpalia was removed from the post of Director, Operations of Air India after he tested positive during a pre-flight breath analyser test.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended his flying licence for three years after he failed the breath analyser (BA) test before his flight on November 11.
In 2017, Kathpalia, was suspended for 3 months by the DGCA for allegedly skipping the breathalyser test before a flight. He was subsequently removed from the post of Executive Director, Operations.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday said in its release, "Captain Amitabh Singh, ED (Training), AIL to be assigned the additional charge of the post of Director (Operations), AIL with immediate effect till further orders."
The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) had demanded the immediate termination of Kathpalia from the Air India's board calling him a "repeat offender" who endangers passengers' lives.
Kathpalia was found positive in a pre-flight breath analyser test and declared 'not fit to fly'. He was scheduled to fly AI-111 flight from Delhi to London on November 11.
According to the ICPA, Kathpalia had skipped the BA test on January 19 last year. He was scheduled to operate a flight from New Delhi to Bengaluru and proceeded to do so without undergoing the mandatory test claiming that the flight would get delayed. Upon landing at Bengaluru, the pilot allegedly refused to undergo the test once again.
The ICPA had also claimed that the signature pilots are mandated to make in a register upon completion of duty was also allegedly forged by Kathpalia.
The DGCA had suspended Kathpalia last year for three months after he had skipped compulsory pre-flight medical test on several occasions.
It is mandatory for pilots to undertake the BA test to ensure that they are not in an inebriated state before entering the cockpit. For safety reasons, they are prohibited from consuming alcohol before reporting for duty.
Earlier, as many as 58 Air India pilots were reported drunk right before they had to fly from various airports in India in last eight years, as revealed by the state-run carrier itself.
As per data shared by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha in Parliament in 2017, this is the second-most common air safety breach committed by crew members, with violations related to breathalyser testing increasing from 49 cases in 2015 to 61 in 2016 -- a jump of 24 per cent.
In fact, Air India pilots were the top violators in 2016 with the national carrier registering 24 cases, followed by Indigo with 9 cases and SpiceJet with 7 cases.
In 2016, a senior Air India pilot was caught drunk flying an International flight from Sharjah to Calicut. The pilot was tested positive for alcohol in post flight medical test.
Over 150 pilots belonging to different airlines in India were caught drunk on duty in the past four years, putting the lives of thousands of airline passengers in danger. This information was revealed in an RTI reply to The Sunday Guardian by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the aviation watchdog.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)