DGCA introduces tests to check pilots for psychoactive substances

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to ensure that pilots flying your planes or ATC officers guiding them are not high on dope or other such drugs, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to has ordered to now test flight crew and air traffic controllers (ATCO) for such drugs.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar has ordered “random drug testing for the consumption of (10) psychoactive substances” like cocaine, marijuana/hashish, MDMA or ecstasy and morphine/opiate. A pilot or ATCO testing positive for drug abuse for the first time will be grounded and made to undergo de-addiction/rehabilitation programme. Failing for the second time will mean cancellation of licence, which means such a person will not be able to work as a pilot or controller again.

According to the order these tests will be carried out post-flight (for crew) or post-shift (for ATCOs). People refusing to undergo this test “shall be removed from the safety sensitive duties until they clear detailed drug testing profile within a week, failing which the license of the involved person shall be suspended for three years.

Testing will be done by a DGCA-authorised laboratory at six airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad in phase 1. Airlines and Airports Authority of India (which provides ATC services) “shall ensure that at least 10% of (their flight crew and ATCOs) are covered in a year.”

Testing will be done on urine samples collected from the randomly selected employees. Samples shall be collected only with consent of the person required to undergo test.

Apart from random checks, pilots and ATCOs will have to be tested for drug abuse at three stages: before getting hired; after an accident and follow-up testing of confirmed cases. All positive cases will have to be reported the DGCA within 24 hours.

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