An Air India commander was reportedly arrested in Sharjah on 16 May for turning in an inebriated condition to operate a Delhi-Kochi flight. Flight AI 934, with 120 passengers onboard, took off at 4.35pm, more than three hours past the scheduled time, after AI found a replacement..
The commander was waiting in the security check queue. The staff found him reeking of alcohol and when he failed a breath analyser test, he was arrested, said a source.
Meanwhile a guarded AI spokesperson said, the pilot was not fully fit. He has been detained in Sharjah. We are investigating why he was not fit to operate the flight.
While AI faces embarrassment over one of its pilots being detained in UAE for turning up drunk to work, the commander may be in serious trouble. Unlike India, where the DGCA diluted rules last year, UAE has very strict rules.
Following a relaxation in rules last year, a pilot in India can lose his or her licence only when caught flying drunk for the third time. Before this dilution, pilots would have their licence suspended for three months when caught drunk for the first time. On a second offence, his or her flying licence would be suspended for five years. This meant an end to the pilot’s flying career as they would have to begin from scratch after five years.