If flying on an India-based airline, better make your peace with whatever deity you believe in, lest you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck with a drunk pilot. You’d think this wouldn’t be an issue, but for airline authorities in India, it is.
Over the course of the past two years, 57 pilots were caught about to fly a plane filled with innocent travelers while on the sauce. The worst part? Most were given clearance to fly again.
According to Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi made to lawmakers, between January 2009 and November 2010, only 11 of the drunk pilots that underwent random screening before flying were terminated. What about the others? I suppose you could say they were lucky at the expense of our safety. The luckiest ones got warning letters, while others were hit with fines.
Some steps are being made to correct the problem, and while you might think “firing the crap out of the drunk pilot” would be the only option, you’d be wrong. If you’re caught drunk before flying, you’re grounded for three months, with the pilot losing their license only on the second instance of drunkenness. Despite the very end of the year being a peak month for drunk pilots, there has yet to be any reported cases since the rule went into effect in December 2010.
India isn’t the only country where this takes place. In September 2010 a pilot for Delta was found with a blood alcohol level of .023, which only slightly above the legal limit in the Netherlands. The real kicker? American pilots can apparently fly a plane if your BAL is lower than 0.18, implying you can conceivably have a beer or two and still legally fly a plane