In India, an increased frequency of random breath analyzer alcohol tests caught two pilots drunk.
The good news is that they were caught in time. The bad news? They were actually about to fly.
The pilots were working for low-budget Indian airline Spicejet, and were caught on the same day in Delhi and Mumbai; one was a local and the other an expat. Both were caught after failing random alcohol testing conducted by the airline a few minutes before a scheduled flight.
This news is rather chilling, and leads us to question whether this same scenario is happening anywhere else. It gives an entirely new meaning to drinking and driving. If taking the wheel after a few drinks is deemed irresponsible, there is no way to describe drinking and flying, when the lives of almost a hundred people depend on your ability to think clearly.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India has ordered airlines to step up random alcohol testing for pilots. The DGCA is the regulatory body for air travel in India. They used to conduct these surprise alcohol testing, but after having difficulties with some pilots trying to evade undergoing these tests, the DGCA has decided to ask the airlines to share the responsibility.
The reason behind this tendency to drink has been attributed to the increased stress that pilots have been subjected to after the Indian aviation industry suffered a downturn last year. The pilots seem to have taken to drinking as a way to deal with the possibility of having to face pay cuts since October last year.
Stressed out or not, pilots of all people should be strong enough to refrain from engaging in activities that will decrease their ability to function properly and make wise decisions. Driving drunk is one thing, but putting hundreds of lives in danger, both in the air and below, is plain unacceptable.