India Catches 57 Pilots Over Alcohol Limit

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Published: March 11, 2011

India’s airline authorities caught 57 pilots over the alcohol limit about to take to the cabin of passenger-carrying jets over the past two years, but most were cleared to fly again, media said on Friday.

Only 11 of the pilots found to be under the influence of alcohol in random pre-flight medical tests between January 2009 and November 2010 lost their job, the Times of India newspaper said, citing a statement by Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi to lawmakers.

The rest were hit with varying punishments determined by their airline, such as warning letters or a fine.

To combat the rising number of inebriated pilots in India’s skies, authorities brought in a rule last year grounding first-time offenders for three months and stripping the flying license from repeat offenders.

Since the rule came into effect in December, a month when cases have traditionally peaked, no cases have yet been reported.

Reports of Indian passengers complaining of poorly behaved pilots are not uncommon. Two years ago, national carrier Air India grounded two pilots and two cabin crew after a four-way fracas in the passenger cabin left the cockpit unmanned mid-flight.

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