New Delhi: Having the risk of spreading the COVID-19 infection, the civil aviation regulator DGCA on Sunday said it is suspending breathalyser tests, which is done to detect alcohol, for all aviation personnel, including pilots. Also Read - Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, DGCA Extends Ban on International Passenger Flights Till April 14
Due to the extraordinary circumstances over COVID-19, and directions issued by high courts in Delhi and Kerala, the DGCA said in the order that breath-analyser tests for all aviation personnel was temporarily suspended at all airports till further orders. Also Read - DGCA Issues Advisory For 'Social Distancing' on Flights, at Airports | Here are the Rules
“Every aviation personnel, who is reporting for duty, is required to submit an undertaking in respect of the fact that he or she is not under the influence of alcohol and that he or she has not consumed alcohol/psychoactive substance in last 12 hours from the time of reporting for duty,” the DGCA stated in its order. Also Read - Coronavirus: ‘All Aircraft Must be Disinfected Once in 24 Hours,’ DGCA Tells Airlines in Fresh Advisory
The development comes hours after the Air India pilots union requested the DGCA to do so saying that these tests could spread the coronavirus infection.
The move from the DGCA comes after the SpiceJet said that one of its pilots who did not fly any international flight in March had tested positive for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in the day, SpiceJet stated that one of its pilots has tested positive for COVID-19. Moreover, Air India pilots union requested aviation regulator DGCA to temporarily suspend breath analyser (BA) test as it can lead to spread of infection.
Using the Spicejet pilot’s case as a reference, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) in its letter stated that continuing BA Tests in these circumstances is extremely dangerous as the machine for the test remains the same and droplets or aerosols of infected pilots may infect the healthy.
As per rules, the BA test involves blowing into a machine to check alcohol content. All flight crew are subjected to mandatory BA tests prior to operating a flight and post the flight in case pre-flight test is not possible, according to the rules.