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Delhi High Court to airlines: Follow the order by DGCA on breath analyser tests of pilots

2 min read
Pilot Law Insider IN

Pilot Law Insider IN

Kriti Agrawal

In light of the covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court has directed all airlines in India to strictly abide by the percentage of breath analyser (BA) testing stated in the April 27 order of aviation regulator DGCA, and that no carrier should go beyond it for the safety of their pilots and cabin crew.

The High Court issued the order after receiving notification from the DGCA that some airlines were checking more pilots and cabin crew than the 10% limit set by the regulator.

Justice Prathiba M Singh also stated that the court will not agree with the medical committee formed by the DGMS (Air) to investigate whether BA tests could be replaced by blood tests to detect alcohol levels, which concluded that blood alcohol testing was not feasible.

The committee was also pleased with the UV sanitation system used by DGCA for the BA test machines.

Although refusing to interfere with the committee’s results, the court did request an additional report from it on whether the BA test can be performed in an open area to prevent COVID-19 spread through suspended particles or aerosols in a confined space.

The Court also asked the DGMS (Air) if it approves of the percentages for the BA test provided in the DGCA’s April 27 order, or if it should be random for all categories of employees – ATCs, pilots, and cabin crew.

The DGCA also informed the court that flight and cabin crew must have undertakings that they have not ingested any alcohol or psychotropic substance in the 12 hours preceding a flight.

Let the DGMS (Air) send a new report at least one day before the next hearing on May 11. In the meantime, the airlines must follow the percentage of testing and other instructions outlined in the April 27 order.

The Court said, “It is reiterated that all airline personnel, including ATCs, cabin crew, and pilots, will be bound to offer undertakings and declarations in respect of not having consumed alcohol in terms of the relevant legislation, without which they could be re-rostered and strict action would be liable to be taken against them.”

The order was issued in response to separate petitions filed by the ATC Guild and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) challenging the execution of BA tests during the current pandemic.