India has decided to expand the horizon of the breath analyser test to almost everyone involved in the aviation ecosystem including air traffic controllers, aircraft engineers and ground handling operators.
At present, only pilots and cabin crew have to mandatorily undergo such tests.
With this, India will join the likes of the US and Europe which require mandatory breath analyser tests for aviation officials other than pilots and engineers.
The breath analyser test is used to determine if the crew is under the influence of alcohol while reporting for work. In January-October, 2018, breath analyser test violations per 10,000 (flight) departures were 2.01. In 2015-2017, the figures were 2.57, 2.44 and 2.46, respectively.
According to the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the level of blood alcohol compatible (BAC) with safe flying is ‘zero’. For the recently introduced category, the DGCA has proposed that the limit remain zero.
“Organisations engaged in the provision of Air Navigation Services, Aerodrome Management, Aircraft Maintenance and Repair, shall ensure that at least 10 percent individuals employed in their respective organisations as engaged in such functions are randomly subjected to breath-analyzer examination on daily basis. Aerodrome management shall also be responsible for conduct of test on the personnel of the ground handling agency and aerodrome operational personnel,” a draft proposal issued by Indian aviation regulator DGCA said.
While licensed personnel like ATCOs will have their licence suspended for three months and be grounded for this period for failing the BA test for the first time or for refusing to undergo the test, for non-licensed personnel like ground handling staff, the action to be taken will be decided by the service provider, according to the draft.
For the second violation, a licensed personnel’s licence will be suspended for a year, while non-licensed personnel will “be removed from performance of safety related function".
Third violation will mean getting the licence suspended for three years and a fourth time will lead to the cancellation of licence.