A senior Air India pilot has been barred from flying for at least three years after he failed the alcohol test before his scheduled international flight on Sunday. Captain Arvind Kathpalia, who is also the Director of Operations at Air India, was found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol content shortly before his flight from New Delhi to London.
His licence has been suspended by the air safety watchdog today.
"The privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years from 11.11.2018 as per the provisions of applicable regulations," a spokesperson at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.
Aircraft rules prohibit crew from having any alcoholic beverage 12 hours before a flight, and mandate them to undergo alcohol tests before and after each trip.
The pilot claimed he was the victim of internal feuding within the loss-making national carrier.
This is the second instance when Captain Kathpalia, who has also flown former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past, had failed the breathalyzer test. In January 2017, he was grounded for three months for skipping the test before a flight.
According to reports, a court had directed the Delhi police to file a First Information Report or FIR against him for violating aviation rules, tampering with evidence and intimidating a doctor employed by Air India.
Missing a mandatory breathalyzer implies failing the test, an official said.
The punishment for such offences under the DGCA rules is suspension of flying licence for three months in case of first breach.
For the second violation, the licence is suspended for three years and if it's repeated one more time, the licence is permanently cancelled.