Two pilots fail dope test, a first since checks began in India six months back

NEW DELHI: Two pilots of leading Indian airlines failed dope tests this week, becoming the first aviation personnel to do so since India started testing flight crew and air traffic controllers for psychoactive substance on a random basis starting January 31, 2022.
As this is the first time they have failed the test, the two are being sent for de-addiction or rehabilitation. After undergoing the programme successfully, they can return to work with a negative dope test and a fitness certificate from their airline doctor.
“The two pilots failed the dope test in the last 4-5 days. As per protocol, their urine samples underwent a confirmatory test after the initial test was positive. The samples were sent abroad for the confirmatory test. Due to sensitivity and privacy issues and the stigma attached, the identity of the pilots and the two prominent Indian airlines they work for is not being disclosed,” said people aware of the development. Comments were sought from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and awaited till the time of publishing story.
While breath analyser (BA) tests to ensure aviation personnel are sober when they report for work are being conducted for several years, the DGCA had for the first time made dope tests mandatory for pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers (ATCOs) earlier this year. At least 10% of these personnel in an organisation have to undergo dope test annually.
Those failing the test first time, have to successfully undergo de-addiction/rehabilitation and are then allowed to resume duty. Those failing second time, will have their license suspended for three years. And failing for third time will mean licence cancellation.
Airlines, Airports Authority of India (parent organisation for ATCOs) and flying schools have to ensure that flight crew members, ATCOs, aircraft maintenance engineers/certifying staff, trainee pilots and instructors/examiners are tested for consumption of psychoactive substances on the following occasions: Before employing a person; before admitting a trainee pilot in a flying school; follow-up testing of confirmed cases and at first available opportunity, in case an aviation personnel has refused drug test to a foreign regulator during flight operation in that country.
All the positive cases have to be reported to the DGCA within 24 hours of detection. A confirmation test will need to be done on those who test positive. The action on positive cases begins with taking that person off duty immediately till a confirmatory report is received.
The drugs to be tested for include: amphetamine and Amphetamine type stimulants; Opiates and metabolites; Cannabis (Marijuana) as THC; cocaine; Barbiturates and Benzodiazepine.
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