Captain Amitabh Singh appointed as Director Operations of Air India
The Central government on Tuesday removed Air India's Director Operations Arvind Kathpalia after the senior pilot failed a pre-flight breath analyzer test.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation, in an order on Tuesday, relieved Captain Kathpalia from his responsibilities as the Director Operations of the national passenger carrier, a day after his flying licence was suspended by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
""In pursuance to Ministry of Civil Aviation order..., Captain Arvind Kathpalia has been relieved from the charge of Director Operations with immediate effect and Captain Amitabh Singh, Executive Director (Training) Air India has been assigned the additional charge of the post of Director Operations with immediate effect, till further orders," the national passenger carrier said in a statement.
Kathpalia had failed a pre-flight alcohol detection test on Sunday. He was supposed to have piloted a New Delhi-London flight.
"In case of Captain Kathpalia being detected BA (breath-analyzer) positive on November 11, 2018, the privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years from November 11 as per the provisions of applicable regulations," a senior DGCA official said on Monday.
As per the provision of Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules, no crew member of a flight, including pilots and engineers, should take or use "any alcoholic drink, sedative, narcotic or stimulant drug or preparation" within twelve hours of the commencement of the flight or in the course of the flight.
Reacting to the development, an official with Air India's pilots' union -- ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots' Association) -- told IANS that the prompt action by the government is a welcome move.
"We are happy. It also sends a strong signal to wrongdoers," he said preferring anonymity.
The pilots union had demanded the immediate termination of Kathpalia from the national carrier's board calling him a "repeat offender" who endangers passengers lives.
In a letter to the Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, the ICPA said Kathpalia continuing in the top post was "demoralising" for the cadres.
Referring to Kathpalia failing the BA test on November 11, the ICPA said he endangered the lives of innocent passengers.
"The flight was delayed and the passengers were left stranded. Kindly note this is a repeat offence. The said incident resulted in extremely bad publicity to the national carrier," the ICPA said.
"He has repeatedly tarnished the image of Air India and we request his immediate termination from the board," the ICPA said in the letter sent on Monday signed by T. Praveen Keerthi, General Secretary.
The ICPA in its letter also said an enquiry against Kathpalia is still pending as on January 19, 2017, in Delhi where he operated flight AI-174 and AI-173 without undergoing BA tests.
(With inputs from agencies.)