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Breath test for all pilots
CHENNAI, JAN 15 (Agencies):
Published on 15 Jan. 2011 11:53 PM IST
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Reporting for duty after consuming alcohol is going to be extremely risky for pilots hereafter, as airlines have started doing pre-flight breath tests on pilots of all departing flights as part of Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) instructions to make such tests compulsory.
Earlier, such tests were conducted randomly. Now, with the procedure being made mandatory, airlines have to make an additional investment on the automatic Alco Sensor machines , as per DGCA specification, TNN reports. Sources said Air India and Jet Airways have started testing all their pilots from the first week of January. As the tubes used to test pilots and cabin crew are disposable, airlines have started bulk-ordering the tubes.
Some airlines have devised ways to cut costs. Sources said Jet Airways has told their cabin crew to recycle the tubes. “Each cabin crew is given a tube for the test which they will reuse. So, we do not have to buy more components for the breath test,” said an airline official.
Most airlines have already invested in the machines each of which costs approximately Rs 1.5 lakh. Airlines have installed one Alco Sensor machine at all major airports.
“In addition to making the test compulsory for pilots of all departing flights, airlines have also started to do random breathalyser tests for pilots and cabin crew after they complete their duty,” said a pilot of a private airline.
In 2009, DGCA issued a circular informing airlines to do the pre-flight breathalyser test for pilots on international routes. This was the first step towards a 100% pre-flight alcohol check for cockpit crew. In 2010, the regulator informed airlines that they should gear up to conduct breath tests on pilots for all flights using Alco Sensor IV type equipment. This new-age equipment can detect even the slightest trace of alcohol on the breath of pilots. According to Rule 24 of Aircraft Rules, pilots are not supposed to consume alcohol 12 hours prior to flight duty.
The new equipment is efficient because it does automatic , fool-proof breath sampling that will display an error message if the test is not conducted properly.
The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has issued instructions making such tests compulsory As the tubes used to test pilots and cabin crew are disposable, airlines have started bulk-ordering them Airlines have installed one alco sensor machine at all major airports. Crew are being tested randomly, post-duty.

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