Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

UAE takes zero tolerance approach to pilots flying under influence of alcohol

The General Civil Aviation Authority said 22 alcohol tests had been carried out since 2018, with action taken against those testing positive

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority is taking a hardline approach to pilots flying under the influence of alcohol. Reuters    
The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority is taking a hardline approach to pilots flying under the influence of alcohol. Reuters    

Airline pilots flying into UAE airports are being subjected to random breathalyser tests in a bid to drive up safety standards.

The General Civil Aviation Authority said 22 alcohol tests had been carried out across the Emirates since 2018.

The GCAA said some pilots had tested positive during the procedures and action was taken against them.

The authority did not disclose the number of pilots found to be under the influence of alcohol or the sanctions they faced.

"The alcohol test further compliments the GCAA’s risk based approach to control any such occurrences of foreign aircraft flight crew operating under the influence of alcohol in UAE airspace," said Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of the GCAA.

Ismaeil Mohammed Al Blooshi, assistant director general of aviation safety affairs at the GCAA, said the authority was taking a tough stance on the issue.

"When a particular flight is selected for alcohol testing, the pilots reporting for duty will be subject to breathalyser tests. Pilots found to exceed an alcohol limit of 0.02 grams (20mg) will not be permitted to fly," he said.

"This limit has been determined based on international best practices. It is equivalent to a ‘zero tolerance’ standard, with a small allowance for the potential presence of alcohol in the breath, due to other factors such as medication or mouthwash."

The authority said airlines are aware of the policy, which it stated had proved successfully since being rolled out.

Flydubai sacked a pilot who failed an alcohol test before being due to operate a flight to the UAE from Nepal last year.

The captain was found to have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and deemed unfit to operate the July 29 Kathmandu to Dubai flight after colleagues raised concerns.

The flight, operated by a replacement crew, arrived in Dubai 10 hours and 30 minutes later than originally scheduled.

Pilots arriving for duty under the influence of alcohol has proved a pressing concern for airlines and authorities across the globe.

Last November, Japan Airlines announced plans to introduce a new breathalyser system at airports abroad after one of its pilots was arrested at Heathrow Airport for being drunk.

A British Airways pilot who turned up for work after an alcohol binge was jailed for eight months in June of last year.

Julian Monaghan boarded a plane to Mauritius at Gatwick Airport but was led away in handcuffs after colleagues smelled alcohol and called police.

In February, an American Airlines pilot was arrested on suspicion of being over the alcohol limit just minutes before the transatlantic flight was due to depart Manchester Airport in the UK.

The flight was cancelled following the pilot's arrest, with passengers booked onto alternative services.

Updated: July 21, 2019 09:32 PM

SHARE

SHARE