“Before the departure, the commander asked whether the co-pilot had taken the breathalyzer test, to which he replied in the affirmative. But it emerged that he hadn’t. The flight was called back,” said a source. Air India flight AI 334 took off around 2 pm, but landed in Delhi at 4pm. About 200 passengers booked on the flight took off as the crew’s maximum flying hours lapsed and an alternative crew couldn’t be arranged. Earlier in the day, AI’s London flight was delayed over similar issue. Pilots turning drunk for work is not a new phenomenon in India.
A 2018 report said as many as 132 aviators were found to be drunk in the pre-flight breath annalyser test in the last three years. Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules prohibits crew members from consuming any alcoholic drink 12 hours prior to the commencement of a flight, and it is mandatory for him/her to undergo an alcohol test both before and after operating a flight. As per the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the level of blood alcohol compatible (BAC) with safe flying is ‘zero’.