Senior Air India pilot fails alcohol test, another skips it; both grounded
New Delhi, Nov 11: Passengers on two international flights of Air India were left strannded on Sunday as one pilot tested positive in the breath-analyser test while another skipped the test, forcing the aircraft to return soon after taking off.
Captain AK Kathpalia, Air India's chief of operations, was grounded after he reportedly failed to clear the mandatory pre-flight alcohol test, a flight to Bangkok had to return to Delhi because its co-pilot had missed the BA test.
Capt Kathpalia was to operate the Air India's AI-111 flight to London from New Delhi on Sunday afternoon. He was earlier also grounded for a similar offence.
"We have grounded Captain A K Kathpalia as he failed twice in the breath analyser test. He was to operate the London flight from New Delhi, but he failed to clear the pre-flight alcohol test," the official said.
"He was given another chance, but the second test was also found positive following which he was grounded," the official said.
An Air India Flight from Delhi to Bangkok was forced to return minutes after takeoff and was then delayed by several hours on Sunday after the co-pilot skipped the breath analyser test.
"Before the departure, the commander asked whether the copilot had carried out the breathalyzer to which he replied in positive. But it emerged that he hadn't. The flight was called back," said a source.
Several passengers complained that the flight, AI-332, returned just 10-15 minutes after it took off from the Indira Gandhi International Airport and they were made to sit in the plane for four hours without being given any reason for the delay.
The incident occurred around the time Air India director (Operations) was found to have tested positive for alcohol prior to his Delhi-London flight.