01 October, 2020

How No Alcohol Tests Abroad Can Let Drunken Indian Pilots Off The Hook

Alcohol is banned for Indian pilots, but no tests abroad can let a drunken aviator off the hook

Illustration by Saahil
How No Alcohol Tests Abroad Can Let Drunken Indian Pilots Off The Hook

You are more than a mile high and midway, snug in your window seat and sipping the trusty airline’s Chardonnay or piping hot Robusta. London is just an in-flight movie away. Suddenly the plane’s tannoy pings and a woozy voice rises above the jet-engine drone. “Hello, this is your co-pilot. Please fasten your seat belts and remain seated. We, uh, seem to be experiencing a little turbulence. Your captain...perhaps he had had a lil drop (hic), er, whiskey.”

This scenario, as absurd as it sounds, replicates a flyer’s worst nightmare—a tipsy pilot flying a planeload of passengers and crew. Don’t panic yet, the odds are one in one hundred thousand that a professional pilot will endanger yours and his life by flying under the influence. Besides, the aviation industry and its regulators have placed sufficient checks to keep the captain off the cockpit unless he is sober.

In India, drink driving is a penal offence not only for motorists and bikers but also for pilots flying domestic airlines as well as those in...



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