In a major step taken for air safety, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has notified that from January 31, flight crew members and air traffic controllers in India will be tested for psychoactive substances such as cannabis and cocaine.
In its order, the aviation safety regulator DGCA noted that the worldwide spread of the use of psychoactive substances is the reason behind taking such a step. The general availability of psychoactive substances and the increasing number of addicted users was a ‘serious concern to aviation safety’, DGCA noted.
The DGCA had issued draft rules where it proposed to set up diagnostic infrastructure to conduct the tests last year itself before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Now the regulator came out with another set of draft rules a few weeks ago.
Know about the new rule
Scheduled commercial airlines and air navigation service providers will have to carry out random drug testing.
The responsibility of conducting the tests is left to the airlines and the air traffic services provider on the lines of breath alcohol testing.
In India, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is responsible for air traffic services.
At least 10% of the flight crew members and air traffic controllers employed by them have to go through testing every year.
All air service providers have to carry out drug tests before employing any person or admitting a trainee pilot.
This includes commercial aircraft operators, maintenance and repair organisations, flying training organisations, air navigation service providers.
A test has to be conducted at the first available opportunity on all those aviation personnel who have refused a drug test to a foreign regulator.
Aviation workers will be tested for psychoactive substances such as amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, opiates, barbiturates, and benzodiazepine.
Any positive test will have to be reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) within 24 hours.
In case the report of a drug test is ‘non-negative’, they will remove the employee immediately from duty till they receive a confirmatory report.
If the confirmatory report is also positive, then the employee will be referred to a de-addiction centre for a rehabilitation programme.
The licence of a worker will stand suspended if he/she is found positive in a drug test for the second time and the licence cancelled for the third time.
What is the need for this new rule?
The new rule by DGCA is needed due to ‘serious concerns to aviation safety’.
The aviation safety regulator noted that the worldwide spread of the use of psychoactive substances.
The general availability of psychoactive substances and the increasing number of addicted users.