DGCA implements screening for psychoactive substances to monitor pilots

DGCA implements screening for psychoactive substances to monitor pilots
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In an attempt to ensure that pilots flying the aeroplanes or ATC officers controlling them are not high on drugs or other such substances...

In an attempt to ensure that pilots flying the aeroplanes or ATC officers controlling them are not high on drugs or other such substances, the Directorate-General of civil aviation(DGCA) has ordered flight crew and air traffic controllers (ATCO) to now check for such drugs.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar has ordered "random drug testing for the use of (10) psychoactive substances" such as cocaine, marijuana/hashish, MDMA or ecstasy and morphine/opiate. For the first time, a pilot or ATCO test positive for drug abuse will be grounded and made to undergo a de-addiction / rehabilitation program. Failure for the second time will lead to license cancellation.

Aviation employees actually have to go through breath-analyser (BA) tests to identify only the alcohol content in the body and not other drugs Last year, the DGCA also started carrying out BA checks on the ground and found as many as 131 ground staff violations.

These tests will be performed post-flight (for crew) or post-shift (for ATCOs) depending on the order. People who refuse to undergo this test "shall be removed from the safety-sensitive duties until within a week they clear the detailed drug test profile, failing which the person concerned's license shall be suspended for three years.

A DGCA-authorized laboratory will conduct tests at six phase 1 airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. India's Airlines and Airports Authority (which provides ATC services) "shall ensure that at least 10 per cent (their flight crew and ATCOs) are covered within one year."

Testing will be carried out on urine samples obtained from the randomly selected workers. Samples are only obtained with the consent of the person who is required to undergo the study. In addition to random checks, pilots and ATCOs will need to be tested for drug abuse at three stages: before being hired; after an accident and confirmatory case testing. The DGCA will be required to report all positive cases within 24 hours.

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