In a first for Indian carriers, Air India is likely to start random drug tests on its pilots and cabin crew. Crew members who are found to have a drug abuse problem could be barred from operating flights till they completely give the same up for good. "There is no specific regulation monitoring drug testing… It is recommended that (AI’s) medical department is asked to devise a process for doing random testing for drugs as a safety initiative…” says a note titled “safety recommendations for psychoactive substances” sent by the airline’s ED and chief of flight safety, Harpreet A De Singh, to AI chairman and other top officials.
A senior airline official told TOI, Air India is planning to take this up as a “pioneering” effort to enhance flight safety in India.
According to DGCA's 'General Safety Conditions' circular, the clause titled, "prohibition on consumption of intoxicating and psychoactive substances", states, "no pilot, commander, navigator, engineer, cabin crew or other operating members of the crew shall have taken or used any alcoholic drink, sedative, narcotic or stimulant drug or preparation within twelve hours of the commencement of the flight or take or use any such preparation in the course of the flight, and no such person shall be in a state of intoxication or have detectable blood alcohol whatsoever in his breath, urine or blood alcohol analysis."
Pre and post-flight breath analyser (BA) tests are conducted by all airlines. A pilot is grounded for three months, three years and forever after failing pre-flight BA test for the first, second and third time, respectively. Those failing the breath analyser tests in post-flight checks get a year added to these groundings.