Did self-medication lead to incapacitation of a pilot-in-command at the time of landing?
Probably, the side effect of a medicine -- taken without any prescription or after consultation with doctor -- incapacitated the pilot, according to an investigation report into an incident involving a SpiceJet flight three years ago.
At the time of landing in Hyderabad, a medical emergency was declared due to incapacitation of the pilot-in-command. The flight landed safely and there was no injury to the people on board or damage to the aircraft.
After a detailed probe, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has concluded that self medication by the pilot concerned was the reason for his incapacitation.
AAIB, which mainly probes serious incidents involving aircraft in the Indian airspace, has also made certain safety recommendations to aviation regulator DGCA.
"The most probable cause of the PIC (pilot-in-command) getting incapacitated was due to side-effect of a pain killer which was taken by the PIC without any prescription or consultation by a doctor," the report, which has just been made public by the DGCA, said.
The investigation report, dated February 1, 2017, has been made public. The incident happened on January 8, 2014.
On the day of the flight, the report said the pilot-in- command woke up with a neck pain and did the pre-flight medical check, but did not inform the doctor regarding the neck pain.
During the flight, the pilot experienced pain in the neck and consumed a pain killer medicine in flight to subside the pain, the report said.
While the flight was on descent, the pilot "experienced partial loss of hearing and a blurred vision and decided to take an anti-allergic tablet to counter the presumed reaction of the pain killer medicine", it added.
AAIB has recommended that the DGCA should "sensitise all the scheduled operators and non-scheduled operators with a circular directing all operators to educate their flight crew and cabin crew of the consequences of self-medication and also the importance of communicating any ailments to the company doctor during the pre-flight medical".
Besides, the regulator has been asked to issue instructions to all scheduled operators to sensitise flight crew through recurrent training on the importance of procedures in the case of flight crew incapacitation.