Air India pilot fails alcohol test

Clay Curtis
November 12, 2018

Air India has not commented on the latest suspension and it is unclear whether the pilot will retain his position as director of operations during the ban.

It is the second time Arvind Kathpalia, who is also on the loss-making airline's board, has been in trouble over alcohol tests.

"We have grounded Capt A K Kathpalia as he failed twice in the breath analyser test".

Air India senior pilot Arvind Kathpalia was grounded minutes before he was to fly over 200 passengers from New Delhi to London. "I am going to contest this". Earlier, his flying licence was suspended in 2017 for three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for allegedly skipping the breath analyser test before a flight.

"It was 1:30 in the afternoon, only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1:30 in the afternoon", Kathpalia said.

The licence of Air India pilot, who was found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol count shortly before he was scheduled to fly, has been suspended for three years on Monday.

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Air India sources said Kathpalia was a repeat offender.

The notice had read, "The ED (Executive Director) in question has criminal cases against him under two sections of IPC, which he has suppressed from the company and obtained the Airport Entry Pass (AEP) for these years". However, he was later appointed to the post of director (operations) in Air India Ltd for a period of five years.

He was suspended for three months a year ago for allegedly refusing to take breathalysers, which led to a court case being filed against him by trade union the Indian Commercial Pilots Association.

When he was promoted to operations director it was contested by the union in its petition to the court.

He claims that he is under attack partly because he is an employee of the original Air India, which wasIndia's global carrier, while the union is from the erstwhile Indian Airlines, which was a domestic carrier.

Kathpalia has denied the allegations, describing them as a smear campaign levelled by rivals, local media reported.

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