The Delhi high Court recently held that testing of aircraft pilots, air traffic controllers and cabin crew for alcohol cannot be exempted as it could prove to be dangerous to the safety of the passengers.
“There is however no doubt that testing for alcohol cannot be completely exempted in as much as the same could be detrimental to passenger safety. While maintaining a balance between the interests of the personnel as also passengers, directions would have to be issued,” The court stated.
Therefore, the court allowed the carrying out of random breath analyzer test by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on air traffic controllers, cabin crew, pilots and other personnel.
The petitions filed before the court expressed concerns regarding COVID infection through the breath analyzer test which before joining duty the Air traffic controller and pilots must undergo.
The order was passed by a single judge bench comprising of Justice Prathiba M Singh as he disposed of the petitions filed by Air Traffic Controllers guild and Indian Commercial pilot Association.
It was further ordered by the court that all the personnel are compulsorily bound to give an undertaking and a declaration that they have not indulged in alcohol consumption, 12 hours before duty.
“The staff of airlines, including ATCs, pilots and cabin crew, would be bound to give undertakings and declarations. in respect of not having consumed alcohol, in terms of the applicable regulations, failing which strict action would be taken including off-roistering and suspension, in accordance with the applicable rules” The court stated.
The court added that not more than 5 percent of cabin crew and pilots can be tested subject to the revision by the end of 3 months and that Rapid Antigen Test would be taken by the doctors and nurses conducting the test to ensure that they are not suffering from COVID 19.
Further directions issued by the court included, the testing equipment should be subjected to UVCA radiation for sanitization and not more than six personnel be tested within the duration of an hour.
The court also directed the DGCA to urgently issue a comprehensive guideline with all the protocols to be adhered to in one document for the administration of breath analyzer test.