A pilot for Air India has been suspended after reportedly failing a breathalyzer test — twice — just over an hour before he was scheduled to fly.
Captain Arvind Kathpalia — who also sits on Air India’s board of directors, and who is responsible for “ensuring safe and efficient flight operations, according to The Times of India — has had his license revoked for three years by India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation following Sunday’s incident, during which he was deemed unfit to fly during a pre-flight alcohol test.
India’s Economic Times is already reporting that Kathpalia, 56, has been relieved from his role as director of operations from the airline, with another captain being assigned the role “with immediate effect."
Kathpalia reportedly arrived before his scheduled flight from Delhi to London, and was administered a routine breathalyzer test in a medical room. After failing, he was offered another test, but failed that one as well, the airline confirmed to the outlet.
“We have grounded Capt. AK Kathpalia as he failed twice in the breath analyzer test,” the carrier said. "He was given another chance, but the second test was also found positive, following which he was grounded.”
It remains unclear at this time what Kathpalia’s blood-alcohol level was reading during the test. The Ministry of Civil Aviation says that “zero” is the only acceptable level for pilots, who are also restricted from consuming alcohol in the 12 hours before duty.
The pilot says he plans to contest his suspension, per Sky News.
Kathpalia, meanwhile, has had a complaint launched against him for a similar reason in January 2017, when he was accused of avoiding an alcohol test both before and after operating a flight from Delhi to Bengaluru. His license was suspended for three months following a probe by the ministry.