Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Flying licence of Air India operations director suspended for 3 years

Flying licence of Air India operations director suspended for 3 years

National carrier Air India Sunday grounded its chief of operations Captain A.K. Kathpalia for allegedly failing to clear the pre-flight alcohol test for the second time in a year.

A veteran pilot had his flying licence revoked Monday after failing a breath test moments before captaining an Air India plane to London, India's aviation regulator said. He was earlier grounded for a similar offence.

More than 150 pilots from different Indian airlines have failed breath tests for alcohol in the past four years, the government said in response to a 2018 freedom of information request.

"He was given another chance, but the second test was also found positive following which he was grounded", the official added.

According to reports, a court had directed the Delhi police to register a case against him for violating aviation rules, tampering with evidence and intimidating a doctor employed by Air India.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation suspends the licence for three months in case of any violation.

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After his licence was suspended in 2017, Kathpalia was removed from the post of executive director, operations.

India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world, with a 20% increase in the number of passengers taking domestic and global flights over the past few years.

In August past year, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, a trade union representing pilots of the state-owned carrier, filed a court case against Kathpalia requesting stern action against him over the missed breathalyzer tests and some other behavior.

Air India did not release any official statement after Sunday's incident.

The 2017 allegation "was a complete set-up", said Kathpalia, who said it was the result of a scheduling issue rather than his refusal to take tests.

He claims that he is under attack partly because he is an employee of the original Air India, which was India's worldwide carrier, while the union is from the erstwhile Indian Airlines, which was a domestic carrier. "They refuse to acknowledge each other", said Kathpalia.

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