Pilots association in HC seeks suspension of breath analyser test during COVID-19

NEW DELHI: An association representing pilots of Air India on Monday urged the Delhi High Court to direct civil aviation regulator DGCA to suspend breath analyser tests due to the surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice Prathiba M Singh, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) informed the court that there was a medical board recommendation of June last year permitting breath analyser tests (BAT).

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), however, told the court that the medical board recommendation was given in respect of BAT of air traffic controllers (ATCs).

The court asked DGCA to place before it the medical board’s recommendation and listed the matter for hearing on April 27.

ICPA has sought suspension of BATs during the ongoing pandemic which has seen a surge in infections.

In March last year, the high court issued an interim order suspending BATs through the tube process for ATCs.

Subsequently, in September 2020 it had modified the interim order and allowed BATs through the tube process on the basis of the recommendations by the medical board.

The board has recommended that one machine would be used per person and not again for the next 12 hours.

The court, while allowing the BATs, had said that DGCA would be bound by the June 16, 2020 recommendations of the medical board.

The interim order of March 23, 2020 was modified on an application moved by DGCA.

The DGCA’s application was filed in the petition filed by the Air Traffic Controllers’ Guild (India) seeking a direction to DGCA and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to temporarily suspend the BAT through the tube process to prevent further spread of the virus.